Saturday, December 13, 2014

Using a STEM Challenge with the Novel, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

I love combining our classroom novels with STEM challenge ideas!  Recently, we did this STEM challenge after reading about one third of the novel.  The kids were so excited to integrate the novel with a hands-on STEM activity!


In this challenge, students had to design a paper airplane that could fly the farthest distance and float on water.  They had limited materials to use, but they had a lot of great ideas!  This display shows the different ways they solved this challenge!


There are five different STEM challenges we will complete as we read the novel.  The challenges include: 

Paper Floatplane Challenge
Temporary Shelter Challenge
Critter Camouflage Challenge
Bow & Arrow Challenge
Wooden Raft Challenge


We charted the data we collected as we tested their ideas and then created this display!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Paper Chain Math Challenge

Are you ready for a math challenge?  This one is a great one!  What is the longest paper chain your group can create from one sheet of 12 x 18 construction paper?  It sounds pretty easy, huh?  Well, it is much harder than it looks!  I had six groups complete the math challenge and here are some of our chains and our results!  Our longest paper chain was 39 feet long!


This math challenge is a great way to get students to work together to creatively solve math related problems!  We actually do one of these a month at our grade level and the kids go crazy for them!  Here is the link to the Paper Chain pack!  The pack contains data sheets, instructions, and more!


Why not get your kids solving a math challenge today?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Boogie Boards...Are Not What You Think!

I was recently at the local teacher store in my area stocking up on name tags, borders, and stickers.  I happened upon the coolest item I have seen in a long time there!  It is a Boogie Board!

I did not buy one at the teacher store since they wanted $35 for one, but I checked for them on Amazon and they are selling for $21-25 each depending on the color choice!  I ordered six of them, one for each table in my classroom.  I cannot wait to see the different ways my students will use them!  You write on them just like paper, but with a stylus.  When you want to erase, you just press the button on the top and "poof", you have a blank slate once again.  The LCD battery is supposed to last 50,000 hours or more!


I am thinking the students may really like designing for our engineering challenges on these!  Once school starts in a few weeks, I will post more pictures and ideas!  I can't wait to play with these!  Click on the link to order them on Amazon!

Enter below to win your very own Boogie Board!




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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

STEM Breaks - Bubbles

Last year I would pass out "STEM Breaks" to each classroom teacher about twice a month.  I would also provide materials to use that were cheap and easy to find.  The purpose of the STEM Breaks were to get the students to explore and ask questions about a variety of materials.  The first STEM Break is about Bubbles!  I found regular bubbles and touchable bubbles both at my local Dollar Tree store.  I gave one of each to each classroom with the STEM BREAK note.  Classroom were encouraged to experiment and share what they discovered in some way.  Many of the classes made posters and books based on the STEM Breaks!



Click here for the FREE google doc of this STEM Break sheet!  Just add bubbles and you are ready to go!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Playing with Pill Bugs

As we ended the year, my students became fascinated with pill bugs!  We decided to learn about these unusual creatures and then we created habitats for a few of them using 2-liter bottles.  Did you know that pill bugs are not actually bugs?  They are arthropods!

This is a really easy lab and you can find most of the materials you need for this lab outside or in the recycling bin!  Once our pill bug habitat were constructed, the students kept a pill bug journal and recorded their observations of the pill bugs in their habitat for about 2 weeks.


I have created a Playing with Pill Bugs lab packet that you can download for FREE!  The fall or the spring are great times to get busy playing with pill bugs!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Success in Secondary with 4mula Fun

I am linking up with a great blog, 4mula Fun, for a linky of great secondary ideas and products!  Check out the rest of the links by clicking here. 


I added the link to my blogpost about the Blowing Big Bubbles Monthly STEM Challenge!  This is a great activity that can be made into a school-wide competition.  Who doesn't love bubbles once the weather gets hot and the school year is coming to a close...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Curious About Clams


We read the book, The Big Wave, by Pearl S. Buck during our weather unit and I never thought it would lead us into a quick mini-unit on clams, but the kids were fascinated by the fact that during some tsunamis the ocean pulls back from the beach and exposes all this sea like, including clams.


We researched the clam using the Internet and wrote information about them to start.  We have actually dissected quite a few different specimens this year, so the kids not only wanted to know about the external features of the clam, but also of the internal.  We colored the diagrams of the internal anatomy and then the kids had to make a clay model of the internal anatomy and this was quite a challenge!  They turned out great, though!


Once we learned all we could about the clam, we began our dissection of the clam.  It was really amazing!



This dissection was pretty simple.  I cut the abductor muscles (the muscles that make the shell stay closed) and the kids worked on finding all of the parts from the diagram.  The kids generated tons of wonderful questions as we worked through the mini-unit!

Who knew an unexpected topic could be such a great way to spend a week?  This is one reason why letting the kids' interests guide some of your plans is always a great idea!   We read, researched, wrote, diagrammed, measured, observed, questioned and more!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Geodesic Domes with Jelly Beans and Toothpicks

My students completed this STEM challenge this past week.  Building a geodesic dome with a bag of jelly beans and toothpicks is not that difficult, so I added a few more rules to up the challenge factor!

Question:  Can your group build the strongest geodesic dome using toothpicks and all of the jelly beans in the bag?

The kids found it really challenging to use all of the jelly beans.  I got the toothpicks and jelly beans (one bag per group) at the Dollar Tree.  Super cheap, super fun, and super challenging!

Here are some of our geodesic domes prior to testing them for strength:







As you can see, we had a wide variety of designs!  Some of these domes were able to hold five textbooks before collapsing!

You can use many different types of candy to build geodesic domes.  Why not try these with your class? Here is the link to the STEM Challenge pack, if you are interested!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gold Coin Catapult Monthly Challenge ~ March

Our school-wide monthly challenge for March is Gold Coin Catapults!  We have made catapults before, so the kids are getting pretty good at it.  We are also including a home project making Leprechaun Traps.  You can click here to get the Leprechaun Trap STEM Challenge FREEBIE!

We decided to pair this challenge with these two books:



This STEM Challenge needs very few materials!  You only need craft sticks, plastic gold coins, and rubber bands.  Click here for the link to this monthly STEM challenge.






Here are some of our catapult designs for this challenge!  Even though the kids come up with such different solutions, they all still work!   It is so amazing to see their thinking as they complete the different STEM challenges!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Monsters Under Bridges ~ Perfect Picture Book for STEM Activities

I just recently found this book and I am IN LOVE with it!  It is such a kid-friendly and educational book!  I can only hope that the author will continue to write these books for other regions of the United States!  I am currently working on a STEM pack to go with the book!  If you haven't already found this book, you can order it on Amazon!  You may want to check out the engineering challenge pack!


Here is the link to the STEM Engineering Challenge Pack for this book!  If you are looking for a pack with lots of bridge projects, this is a great one!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Snowball Catapults Engineering Challenge

I stumbled upon one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time...INDOOR SNOWBALLS!  I just knew I had to create something STEM related in order to get to play with these in my classroom!  They come in 20 and 40 packs.  Click on the picture for the link to these on Amazon!


The students had to complete the following STEM Engineering Challenge:

Can you design and build a snowball catapult that launches the snowball the farthest distance?

Materials: (per group)

One indoor snowball (homemade or premade)
Variety of building materials (cardboard, paper, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, tongue depressor sticks, etc.)
Plastic spoons
Tape, scissors and glue
Tape measure

There were some pretty simple rules to follow as well, and the kids had a blast constructing their own catapults!  Here are some of their designs:






Students got to test their snowball catapults at their tables as they built them and then in the hallway when we were testing them.  They had a blast!  Click on the picture below for the link to the $2 lab pack.



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