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Trick or Treat with Halloween STEM

Do your students talk endlessly about trick or treat time? Do they love Halloween jokes and riddles? I know mine always do! Even the jokes that make us groan (pun intended)!

“What is a skeleton’s favorite instrument?”

The answer to that one will definitely make you groan…

Trick or treat STEM Challenges for Halloween season! Students will stay engaged even at this busy time of year!

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We tried some challenges specifically for the month of October and the kids loved them all! Much better than candy treats (probably not, but they did love them!)  

  • Pumpkin Elevators
  • Haunted House Mazes
  • Pumpkin Launchers
Trick or Treat STEM Challenge: Create an elevator for a Haunted House. It must have a cranking device and hold the weight of a pumpkin!

Pumpkin Elevators

My original thinking about this one was to have a haunted house that needed to deliver some pumpkins to the top floor. The challenge was to create an elevator that would do this. So, we had two things to consider:

  1.  Make a haunted house.
  2. Create an elevator that would hold weight.

First, we needed boxes for the haunted house and I grabbed some boxes from our teacher workroom. (By grabbed I mean that I emptied the boxes of reams of copy paper and stole the boxes. Copy paper boxes are the perfect size for so many things!)  

Anyway, as the test class worked on this we discovered that the box was too deep and they had trouble creating things inside it. So, I cut them in half!   That was perfect!  

The next problem was creating the elevator- it had to have a crank mechanism and a platform to support the weight of the pumpkin. This created some problem-solving opportunities for my fifth graders.

Trick or Treat STEM Challenge: Create an elevator for a Haunted House. It must have a cranking device and hold the weight of a pumpkin!

More recently we changed from using a box. Sudents used cardboard tubes to hold up the elevator and we unwound the string and cranking mechanism from the tabletop to the floor.

Student just turned their crank to lift the pumpkin. We used two different pumpkin objects.

However, this can also be used to lift anything- plastic eggs, apples, small toys.

Halloween STEM

Speaking of pumpkins…

When I started working on these challenges I was planning on buying those little pumpkins you see around Halloween time.

Instead, we used those plastic pumpkins in the photo above. Those are actually drink bottles from the dollar store and I filled them with sand to make them heavier. We also tried some black “witches kettles” filled with candy corn.

Halloween STEM

These are the pumpkins (or gourds) I eventually found and you can see how small they are by looking at the apple. However, I couldn’t find these when we were testing this challenge.

Trick or Treat STEM Challenge: Create a Haunted House Maze that a ball will roll through!

Trick or Treat Mazes

My younger students made mazes and we called these Haunted House Mazes. Again, I had to go searching for the perfect boxes for this!

Remember, all those copy paper boxes I borrowed? Well, the Elevators used the box and these mazes used the box lids! Perfect!

Until I needed more lids. That is when I discovered that a soft drink “flat” is the perfect size for a maze. A “flat” is the cardboard box that a case of soft drinks uses. Another box you can try is a gift box.

We used craft sticks and a lot of white glue to create our maze paths and a ton of Halloween decorations to create the Haunted House look. The ball going through our mazes is a plastic eyeball I also found at the dollar store.

In fact, the decorations you see in all these photos came from the Dollar Tree!

Halloween STEM Challenge: Use materials to create a device that will propel a small candy pumpkin!

Launchers

I think all kids love building catapult systems. I have several different versions of a device propelling something. This one launched a candy pumpkin. Definitely a trick or treat challenge!

The materials were things I already had in my cabinets- just basic craft items and kids had to build a device to make that pumpkin sail. We set up foam cups to knock down and they had a blast.

Halloween STEM Challenge: Use materials to create a device that will propel a small candy pumpkin!

This challenge has a few safety rules. I do not allow the devices to be handheld. I have found that students will sometimes get their arms too involved in the throwing action of this catapult system. It makes the propelled object travel too far. The device must sit on the floor.

We also have rules about aiming and launching when no one is in the way.

And, of course, we have competitions!

This Haunted House Escape Room for elementary students is the perfect way to engage students during the busy month of October. This Escape event uses math, a coordinated grid, and a Halloween puzzle. There are goblins, mummies, vampires, witches, and haunted houses!

Haunted House Escape Room

This Haunted House Escape Room for elementary students is the perfect way to engage students during the busy month of October. This Escape event uses math, a coordinated grid, and a Halloween puzzle. There are goblins, mummies, vampires, witches, and haunted houses!

It does use boxes with locks, but I also provide a “paper lock” system that you can use instead!

Have a Happy Halloween! Oh, and remember my joke at the beginning of this post? The skeleton’s favorite instrument is a TROMBONE! (groan)

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Trick or treat STEM Challenges for Halloween season! Students will stay engaged even at this busy time of year!