If this is your first foray into STEM you are in for a treat. These challenges are easy to set up, great fun, and oh-so-loved! These are sure-fire winners- not to be missed!
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These 5 challenges are:
- all just loads of fun
- have easy materials and easy prep
- great for lots of age groups
- fabulous for any time of year
Some may require more materials to gather and some have one main material- with a little bit of tape! The truth is you can throw these together and I guarantee kids will be excited and love the event.
Volume with Popcorn
This is one of the easiest STEM challenges for you to prepare!
Kids build a container for a specific amount of popcorn. I have written about this one several times because it’s one of my favorites! You can use a little picture book about popcorn with it or just do the challenge! (The Popcorn Book by Tomie de Paola)
It’s all about the students’ perception of volume and, let me just tell you, their idea of the volume of a container and what they actually need is vastly DIFFERENT! It’s a great lesson!
PREP: Count out the popcorn that is used to test the containers. I pop one large bag in the microwave and count by fives. It seriously takes 2 minutes. Students only need paper and tape.
This is a fantastic easy STEM challenge for spring and summer. You can do a lot of the challenge outdoors if your weather is cooperating. I always complete it indoors!
First, kids explore with bubble solution and then they use an array of materials to build their own bubble wand! Kids love this one! It’s perfect for younger kids!
PREP: You do need to mix up the bubble solution and my recipe is in the resource. The items students choose from to make bubble wands is literally whatever you think they will try. I just go through my cabinets and pull out weird junk.
You will love this challenge! It uses two materials! Seriously- just TWO!
It has absolutely zero prep. Just lay the stuff out and get going. I use plastic eggs filled with pennies and if the kids have a successful tower we replace the plastic egg with a real one. Oops, that makes it have three materials because you need eggs, too! Anyway, it is quite challenging and then has the added bonus of cracking some eggs! Which by the way, kids love to do!
PREP: Fill plastic eggs with pennies or marbles, or just use a zippered bag. You do not have to have real eggs, but it does make it fun. Students need paper and tape. Easy STEM, right?
This is a rescue challenge with a great background story. Kids have to build a container to drop cargo from varying heights. The cargo is fragile and cannot move at all.
It is quite challenging but is worth the time. I would do this with 4th-6th graders! My fourth graders loved it, especially the testing part!
Testing involves dropping the structures and hoping the cargo survives.
PREP: Cut the cardboard into small pieces and gather anything you have that students might use to protect the fragile cargo. We use marshmallows, but you can substitute with cotton balls.
This one is super simple and really does have two materials.
Kids try to build a tower out of something that is very flimsy, so they have to devise ways to make it more sturdy.
The towers can get amazingly tall! I have used this with third graders, but I know my older students would love it too. It would be perfect for a rainy afternoon!
PREP: Tear off lengths of foil and get out the tape. That’s it- easy-peasy! (I buy pre-cut foil and that makes it even easier!)
Click on any of the images to see more details. You might also enjoy these posts about challenges we love: