I always like to start the school year with 2 specific STEM Challenges. The first STEM Challenge we do is Tiny Glasses. Students have to build the tallest structure using 48 tiny glasses in only 20 minutes.
This is the first challenge I like to do for a few reasons. First, it is a challenge that no one is very good at the first few times they try it. Students have to be able to not give up in order to be successful and the time limit makes them even more likely to think it is impossible. We always have a great discussion once the challenge is over about growth mindset and the importance of continued trying, even in the midst of utter failure.
The second challenge we complete is the Puzzle Building Challenge. This challenge requires students to build a 24-60 piece puzzle together without the picture on the box. As if that wasn't challenging enough, students have to do it without talking to one another. They can use hand gestures, but no actually talking.
Which STEM challenges do you like to begin the year with? Please share your ideas in the comments!