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5 Favorite STEM Challenges! (According to the Students)

The Favorite STEM Challenges are the ones students request to complete over and over! Let’s take a look at a recent vote for our students favorites!

The challenges I am sharing today are the ones kids LOVE and beg to do again – a lot. Like weekly. Like,  

 “When are we making pancakes again?”

 Seriously!   So, let’s take a look at the TOP 5 STEM Challenges ever- according to STUDENTS!

5 best challenges voted by students- Roller Coasters, Index Card Towers, Designing Pancakes, Building Boats, and Catapults.

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that Amazon will pass on small percentages to me with your purchase of items. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!

Favorite STEM #1 Roller Coasters

5 best challenges voted by students- Roller Coasters, Index Card Towers, Designing Pancakes, Building Boats, and Catapults.

Of course, this is number ONE! I have not yet found a kid that didn’t love this one. When we use this challenge with kids I have them do some experimenting first and then they get to build a model. I do have rules about the model- it has to have a certain number of turns and loops.

These are fun, kids give them a name, and they absolutely love demonstrating them with the entire class!

Trust me, if one group makes a giant loop, every group will try it. If one group makes a completely vertical drop, then all of them will try it. They just want to have the most outrageous model ever! Total kid fun! (I might add that there is a lot of science involved in this challenge: force and motion, Newton’s Laws, scientific method, and the engineering design process!) More details about Roller Coasters {HERE}.

Favorite STEM #2 – Designing Pancakes

This challenge is number 2, but for some kids, it is even better than roller coasters! I guess the ones that love it must love pancakes! In this one I have kids experiment with different versions of the pancake ingredients and they keep data tables to show results of each trial. In the end, they use the data to determine the best recipe and then we make it.

And eat it. And they bring toppings. And eat until they are groaning! (There is so much science behind this one and math: chemical reactions, measuring liquids and solids, mixing, and cooking!) More details about Pancakes {HERE}.  

5 best challenges voted by students- Roller Coasters, Index Card Towers, Designing Pancakes, Building Boats, and Catapults.

Favorite STEM #3 – Building Boats

5 best challenges voted by students- Roller Coasters, Index Card Towers, Designing Pancakes, Building Boats, and Catapults.

Every kid loves building boats which makes it #3. I am just not sure why, but they love to build them and watch them sink. We add weights to them and keep track of the number. I know the competition is part of why they love this challenge! It’s super easy to prep for this and the materials for the boat are easy-peasy, too!

I set up a large dishpan of water on a central table and we try floating (and sinking) the boats!

 I love this one because kids choose the materials based on using a budget!  (Science: floating and sinking, measuring, engineering design process, and budgeting.) More details about Boats {HERE}.  

Favorite STEM #4 – Index Card Towers

This challenge seems so simple, but it turns out to be quite challenging. We learn what counter-balancing means rather quickly.

Students have a stack of index cards and must build the tallest tower possible.

These towers are precarious with the slightest movement causing a tragic crash.

Yet, students love it- mainly because of the possibility of building the tallest tower ever!

More about Index Card Towers {HERE}.  

5 best challenges voted by students- Roller Coasters, Index Card Towers, Designing Pancakes, Building Boats, and Catapults.

Favorite STEM #5 – Experimenting with Catapults

5 best challenges voted by students- Roller Coasters, Index Card Towers, Designing Pancakes, Building Boats, and Catapults.

Coming in at number 5 is Catapults. Kids love these almost as much as roller coasters. First, they experiment with different angles of catapults made by the number of cross beams added to the model. Then that data is used to build models that will launch a projectile the longest distance or over an obstruction. (Yes, I squeezed some science and math into this one, too! It’s: force and motion, Newton’s laws, measuring, averaging numbers, using data, and predicting.)

More about Catapults {HERE}.  

So, there you have it! These are the top five STEM challenges we have completed- as voted on by my students. They love them and I made sure they included science and math.

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Comments

  1. I love your STEM challenges! I do a Roller Coaster challenge with my classes and they love it too! I'm curious what materials you use to make the roller coasters?

    Katie
    Teaching Voracious Learners

  2. Thanks Katie! Just foam tubes! And ten tons of tape. My kids are really creative with using plastic cups and our lab stools as props! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. HA! I love the Barbie Bungee! There is something gleefully wicked about dripping the beauty queen on her head 🙂 See you later. Kathleen

  4. HA! I love the Barbie Bungee! There is something gleefully wicked about dripping the beauty queen on her head 🙂 See you later. Kathleen

  5. The roller coaster challenge looks like great fun.Can you further explain the materials though? You said the track was foam tubes? I'm having hard time picturing what this is or where I would get some. Also, what are you racing on the track? marbles/hot wheels?

  6. The foam tubes are insulation tubes I purchase at Home Depot and cut in half. These are normally used to insulate pipes for cold weather climates. We use marbles on our tracks. Thanks for your interest! You can see this in more detail from my Teachers Pay Teachers store: teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-Engineering-Challenge-Roller-Coasters-1175695

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