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)
*** CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO PREVIEW ***
Note: This is the printable version. If you are in a 1:1 / paperless classroom, you will want to check out the digital option for use with Google Slides 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 my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Materials and timing
- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
- Measuring results
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list
- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
- Criteria & Constraints List (color and black & white; editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included)
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Classifying Levers Notes (editable)
- Classifying Levers Practice (with answer key)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
This is one of five challenges available in the Late Winter STEM Challenge bundle at a ~40% discount!
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
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 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?
“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 Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Christmas/Winter STEM Design Challenge: 5-in-1 Bundle
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Valentine’s Day STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!
Video preview music credit:
"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License