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Engaging Projects for Earth Day

Earth Day STEM Projects- that are also perfect for any time of the year!

Just so you will know… Yes, there were leaks! Yes, we made chocolate goodies. Yes, I made 10 jello pans. This is STEM!  And it was fun. Maybe, the most fun ever, but you can decide after you read the part about the jello… But, I can promise you this: Your students will be totally engaged in these activities!

Engaging projects for Earth Day or any day. The three challenges featured on this blog post all have earth topics with real-life applications.

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Earth Day STEM – Solar Ovens

Earth Day STEM - Here’s a fabulous Earth Day STEM challenge all about using the sun for warming items! Your students will love this! After testing heat-absorbing materials students will design a small oven to create a delicious treat. All you need is a sunny day!

This turned out to be spectacular. First of all I needed the boxes, though. I thought of pizza boxes first and I went to my favorite local restaurant and asked if they could donate some pizza boxes. The manager said they could and when I requested 40 boxes, his face had that look. You know, the look that means uh-oh, but you are trying to not look like that. So, I told him I would think about it and get back with him. By the way for one classroom you do not need 40 boxes, but I have six third grade classes, so that would be 36-38 boxes needed. 

So, I did what we all do- I tried Amazon.

I found this great little box in a very large quantity for a reasonable price.

These turned out to be the perfect size! And, they were delivered in two days!

Earth Day STEM - Here’s a fabulous Earth Day STEM challenge all about using the sun for warming items! Your students will love this! After testing heat-absorbing materials students will design a small oven to create a delicious treat. All you need is a sunny day!

After putting together the boxes, which is just basically folding them, I set out the materials and we jumped right into this challenge. Kids tested materials to line the box to try to soak up as much sunshine as possible.

And, of course, we ended the event by cooking some s’mores! Can I just say this was definitely a hit with the third grade? Would this one be your favorite?

Another Engaging STEM Challenge! Earthquakes!!

Earth Day STEM-This earthquake simulation activity has students building and shaking! This amazing challenge has turned out to be one of our favorites! Students must build a structure following strict rules and then test the stability of it by using a shake-tray. Your kids will love building the structures and cheering when they remain standing!

This is the one with the jello pans.

Now, I was thinking that each group would need its own pan. They would build their earthquake resistant building, place it in the unstable earth (jello), and then shake it according to the directions I gave them. Sounds good, right?

Well, it actually was after I learned we only needed one or two pans.

TIP: It really worked better to have a central table with two jello pans so we could all circle around the table and watch. It was also easier for me to supervise one table of jello rather than 6!

Earth Day STEM-This earthquake simulation activity has students building and shaking! This amazing challenge has turned out to be one of our favorites! Students must build a structure following strict rules and then test the stability of it by using a shake-tray. Your kids will love building the structures and cheering when they remain standing!

Before we started working on this one the dilemma I had was making and storing all those pans of jello. I bought the pans at the Dollar Tree and took the jello and pans to school on a Saturday afternoon. I borrowed our portable kitchen mini-fridge and then stored all the pans in it.

Next, up, kids built their little house, placed them in the pans, and shook them until they either collapsed or stayed standing for the specified time.

Some things we learned: 

One or two pans would work for the whole class, cover the jello with waxed paper before placing the structure on it, and don’t touch the jello! Some of our structures were remarkably stable!

I will have to say that kids loved this one, too! These were fourth graders and they really loved the shaking part the best! Is this your favorite?

TIP: I have updated this resource and it now includes directions for a different shake-table. It’s super easy to make- a long plastic bin, a piece of foam board, and some elastic.

Earth Day STEM – Water Pipelines

Earth Day STEM- Here’s a fantastic Earth Day challenge that can be used all year long! It’s a water pipeline event! This has turned out to be one of our favorite challenges. The kids cheer when it is announced and yours will love it, too. Students create a working pipeline that uses a fun background scenario as the inspiration for the task.

This one is just purely hilarious fun! First up, let me say—- you will need towels. Real towels.

Kids had an array of materials and needed to make a water reservoir that would hold water and then transport it through tubing to another container- without leaking.

Got that? No leaks.

Ha!

Earth Day STEM- Here’s a fantastic Earth Day challenge that can be used all year long! It’s a water pipeline event! This has turned out to be one of our favorite challenges. The kids cheer when it is announced and yours will love it, too. Students create a working pipeline that uses a fun background scenario as the inspiration for the task.

This turned out to be surprisingly easy for some teams and a disaster for others. But, it was all super fun. I wish I had a video of the kids scrambling and holding their hands under the leaks after the water started running through. Sometimes the whole team would all have cupped hands under the leaks.  I would hear a voice hollering, “Help!” Teams at the next table would come to their rescue with towels and extra hands.   (By the way, did you know that wet tape is no longer sticky?)

Earth Day fun, but remember all of these projects are perfect all year long. Click on the images to see more details. You might also emjoy these blog posts:

Engaging projects for Earth Day or any day. The three challenges featured on this blog post all have earth topics with real-life applications.

Comments

  1. Unknown says

    With each of these activities, do you have them do some pre-writing/post-writing to hypothesis/strategize/review what they've done? I have a very goal oriented class, which sounds nice, but it's more of accomplishing the goa/finishing the task rather than taking the time to do it well and to think about what went wrong and what can be learned from this lesson. How do you take this from a fun activity to an actual lesson where they slow down and think?

  2. Carol Davis says

    Hi Kathy! Thanks again for your interest! All of the challenges we complete have lab sheets that kids complete. They write about initial ideas and then about how they improve their structures. In the end they have reflection questions. The lab sheets are provided in the products from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!