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Let’s Tackle Volume in the STEM Lab- 6 Projects

Your students love to measure things, right? Well, let’s take advantage of that and explore some STEM Challenges all about volume and math skills!

The first time I tried a STEM Challenge that involved volume I discovered students did not understand it at all! So, I have a fun way to help them visualize it!

Try telling your students this:

  • If we measure around the edge of our classroom and put up a fence, we use perimeter.
  • If we measure the entire floor to put down carpet, we use area.
  • If we fill our classroom up with water, we use volume.

For now, let’s tackle some STEM Challenges that work on volume and other math-based skills!

Volume resource round-up- 3 ways to tackle volume in the elementary classroom. Students measure, estimate, build and scoop.

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!

Exploring Volume with the Popcorn Challenge

It’s the Popcorn STEM Activity! This Easy Prep Challenge is one of my absolute favorites to use as an exploration into volume. This challenge has been tested with 2nd-5th graders and they all enjoy designing those containers to hold the popcorn. Inevitably, there will be gigantic containers.

What is the challenge?

  • Students build a container to hold a specific amount of popcorn.
  • Students will have a list of the Design “rules” and a set of supplies from which to build.
  • The final design will test their understanding of volume and at the same time have them collaborating, designing, and constructing.
  • In the end, each team will present its final container!

The containers will be way too large or too tiny to fit the popcorn perfectly!

It’s an eye-opening Volume Challenge!

Explore Volume with Scoops

Here’s a great math problem! Is a scoop of rice the same volume as a scoop of popcorn? It’s all about exploring with volume! STEM Challenges are easy and terrific ways to engage students in science and math concepts and have some fun, too! This exploration into volume will provide excellent hands-on learning!

Here’s another one that always creates some ‘aha’ moments in the lab!

  • Students will examine various materials and consider how many scoops of those materials will fill a container.
  • They will add scoops to containers and keep a data table of the results.
  • Finally, students will discuss those results and reach a conclusion about the scoop and container- learning some valuable concepts about volume along the way!

Students must predict the amounts for every material before they scoop! Do you think they catch on and start predicting accurately? No, they don’t! The lesson is priceless!

Explore Volume with a Box!

Can you use a few supplies and build a container? It must hold weight and follow all the design rules! Your students will love this STEM Activity and making these little containers and you will love the easy-to-prep challenge! Add learning about volume and this activity is a win-win.

Such a simple challenge with a big pay off as students see volume in action!

  • Students use the materials to design and build a box.
  • They have only one piece of paper!
  • The box has some requirements- a handle, a latch to keep the lid closed, and the lid must hinge.
  • To test the box students will add weights.
  • Due to the limited materials most of the boxes built will be of similar size and shape. This will lead to a discussion of volume and its effect on creating a container.

NOTE: These little boxes hold more pennies than you expect!

Cup Stacking and Finding Mean, Median, Mode, & Range

If you need easy-prep and math-based activities you are going to love this challenge! How tall can you stack 100 cups? Can you calculate the mean, median, mode, and range with your data? This is a perfect challenge to practice these math skills and increase the level of teamwork with your students.

Students love to stack cups so this challenge is perfect!

  • This ONE-DAY STEM Activity is a GREAT introduction activity or review for finding mean, median, mode, and range.
  • The activity package has 4 tasks and will have your students stacking and building with cups!
  • As towers are built students will stop and count, calculate averages, determine the median, mode, and range, and have a lot of fun!

NOTE: This activity is quite competitive!

Area and Perimeter Set 1

If you need a fabulous resource for practicing math skills and combining a STEM Challenge here you go! Students will design a small dog run model after completing an exploration of area and perimeter.

I have two paper/pencil volume activities. This one has the added challenge of building a tiny model of a dog run!

  • Students are exploring perimeter and area.
  • Students are given a specific perimeter to use in designing a Dog Run.
  • They must find all the combinations of sides in a rectangular shape that will create the dog run.

  • After finding these rectangles students will also determine the area of each.
  • Finally, they must choose which shape would make the best dog run for a dog and explain why.

The decorative items students add to their dog runs are amazing! Notice the tiny water bowl and the real sticks and rocks in the photo!

Area and Perimeter Set 2

If you need a fabulous resource for practicing math skills and combining a STEM Challenge here you go! Students will design a floor plan for a doghouse after completing an exploration of area and perimeter.

Here is another paper/pencil activity! Easy prep for the win.

  • Students will practice using perimeter and area.
  • They will find a specific perimeter to use in designing polygons
  • Teams will draw a certain number of polygons within the given perimeter and then determine the area of each
  • They will compare the different shapes and determine which shapes have the greatest area.
  • They will design a dog house floor plan- with specific size rules for the area and perimeter.

This one is more challenging than you expect!

Perfect! Some amazing challenges with a focus on math skills that elementary students need to practice! #winwin

Click on any of the images to see details about these resources!


Volume resource round-up- 3 ways to tackle volume in the elementary classroom. Students measure, estimate, build and scoop

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  1. I learn so much from your blog posts, and I have many many MANY of your products on my wish list! Thanks for sharing your passion for STEM with the rest of us.
    Laughter and Consistency

  2. Thanks so much for your encouraging words! I love working with STEM projects with kids! They solve dilemmas in such unique ways! Thanks for stopping by!

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