Looking for a fun Christmas or winter activity that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and/or math? Christmas-Winter STEM / STEAM Challenges are the perfect activities because they engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun!
The basic premise:
In partners/small groups, students will design the “iciest” tree possible.
Working against a criteria/constraints list individually or in partners, students will design a snow scoop to designed for maximum capacity and/or maximum efficiency. Success can be evaluated in one or both of the following ways:
– Largest possible scoop capacity
– Time to clear a 1-inch path in the snow (or to clear the entire yard of snow)
Note: This version is for use with Google Slides in 1:1/paperless classrooms. If you prefer to print and have students complete work with paper/pencil, you'll want to look at the printable version instead.
If you have questions about which version is right for you, please feel free to leave me a question using the product Q&A below.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to STEM Challenge how-to videos
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Design Analysis
- Discussion Questions
- Classifying Levers Notes (editable)
- Classifying Levers Practice (with answer key)
- Process flow map
- Create & solve math problems based on designs
- Video/website linked slides
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified. )
• ~ 12in. X 8 in. x 2 in. pan or box lid
• 2 lb. bag of white rice or 1 bag of mini marshmallows
– Paper plate or bowl (to hold the snow from scoop designs for weighing)
– Craft sticks (3-5)
– Straws (3-5)
– Pipe cleaners (3-5)
– Masking tape (12 – 24 in.)
– 3x5 in. index card (1)
– Scale (if choosing the capacity challenge goal)
– Stopwatches (if choosing the time to clear snow challenge goal)
– Design analysis handouts
• Binder clips
• Rubber bands
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience
- High levels of student engagement
- The potential to hit upon all NGSS ETS standards depending on the depth and number of iterations you choose to implement in your classroom (modifications included)
- Highly flexible and differentiated for materials, timing, grade levels, and rigor.
Each design iteration should be planned for ~60-90 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.
What do teachers have to say about this resource?
Note: Comments taken from the print version.
“I used this with second through fourth and eighth grade GT students. Students were engaged and wanted to make improvements after measuring "snow". It was loads (lol) of fun and helped with the lesson on simple machines. Great job!”
“Every single detail in this product is planned perfectly. Thank you for a complete and engaging activity!”
“Very thorough and detailed!”
“We had so much fun with this... we used it after an epic number of snow days and told the kids we were out of school so long because we had no way to clear the school parking lot... design perfection”
“Very thorough and challenging. I used with a wide rage of students in STEM class and the material options ensured many different responses from the students.”
“This was a great resource. The walk-through videos make it very easy to just pick up and use with any class. It's easy to differentiate for students of all levels”
You might also like these resources:
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Christmas/Winter STEM Design Challenge Bundle
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge Bundle
Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
Please check out the preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!