Looking for a fun Christmas or winter activity that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and/or math?
The basic premise:
Working against a criteria/constraints list in partners or groups, students will design and build a “snowball” fortress wall with two main criteria: greatest area (or just height or length for younger students) and ability to withstand a “snowball” attack.
This is one of five Winter / Christmas STEM Challenges. They can be purchased in a bundle at a 40% discount:
Winter_Christmas 5-in-1 STEM Challenge Bundle (2nd – 8th)
This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!
Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- 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 approximately 60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. I recommend working on STEM Design Challenges in multiple iterations to get the full value.
Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.
– Marshmallows: large, mini, or a mix (35 – 50)
• Sugar cubes or blocks can be substituted for building the fortress wall, but at least one marshmallow per student will still be needed for a “snowball” attack.
– Straws (10 – 15)
– Popsicle/craft sticks (10 – 15)
– Toothpicks (25 – 50)
– Small paper plates (1 or ½ of one)
– Work mat (construction paper, foil, newspaper, etc.)
– Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
– Plastic knives, forks, and/or spoons
– Pipe cleaners
– Spool of wire (gardening or steel)
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Premise & Set-up
- Materials and timing
- Modifying Criteria & Constraints to adjust challenge difficulty
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list & links
- A video walk-through of this challenge will be posted & linked Dec. 22, 2016
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (Two versions & sets included: 2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students for two different challenge goals)
- Discussion Questions
- Arctic/Antarctic Animal Adaptation Research Handout (editable)
- Cold Synonyms, Antonyms, Similes, & Metaphors Handouts (editable)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
What are teachers saying about Frozen Fortress?
"My students really enjoyed the activity and I appreciated the well thought out worksheets to go with it. It helps encourage thought and discussion even with a "fun" activity. It still helps build analytic thought, group work, reflection, etc. I appreciate that there were different levels all in one purchase as this makes it easier to differentiate. The extension activity was great, I actually use it as the morning work before we started on the activity to get the kids in the mindset of "okay, we are still in school but it will be fun." I'm a teacher that isn't in to the whole movie on the day before break so activities like this are perfect! Whew...okay, all that to say: thank you for taking the time to create this and share it!"
"Can't wait to introduce this challenge to my students. I love that all of your challenges are so engaging. Easy to follow instructions and clear connections to the standards.”
“A great activity for the week before Christmas break. It was messy fun for them and perfectly challenging.”
“Great for the winter doldrums!”
"Thank you so much for such a well thought out resource. The instructions were easy to follow and I love that there were many different levels included to meet the needs of my students. I love this resource!"
You may also like these products:
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Christmas/Winter STEM Design Challenge: 5-in-1 Bundle
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Christmas Parts of Speech Activity (2nd – 3rd)
Graphing with Skittles Activity (2nd – 3rd)
Valentine’s Day STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE