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Nov 2, 2017

November STEM Challenges!

November is upon us, which means that Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Fall has also arrived, and with it comes a world of opportunities to incorporate STEM activities into the classroom that can directly tie in to the season. There are countless fun science, technology, engineering, and math activities to do with your upper elementary kids that will really get their brains going this fall season!

Here are three fun Thanksgiving themed STEM Challenges that your students will love! 

The Cornucopia Catch Game!

Students must construct 5 paper cornucopias along with paper fruits and vegetables. The cornucopias must be strong enough to hold, catch, and toss paper vegetables. Students must come up with their own unique game with instructions, rules, and challenges using the cornucopias. When their STEM group has invented the game, they must teach it to the class. The group with the most creative game wins the challenge!  
**For more instructions and a list of supplies, scroll to the end of the post!

Crack the Turkey Code Challenge!

Using a list of supplies, students will first create a turkey craft. On the turkey feathers of the craft, students must decide on made-up symbols that represent letters of the alphabet. They must create an answer key of their symbols that correlate with the letters A-Z. Their turkey craft will have a coded message. The message must be a fact about turkeys and it must contain at least five words.  Different colors must be used as a clue for students to know how many letters each word contains in the sentence. (See sample code). When multiple groups are finished, they can give their turkey codes to each other and try to guess what the other group’s message is. The vowels are automatically given to the group who is trying to guess the code to make it easier to decipher.. **For more directions and a list of supplies, scroll to the end of the post!


Toothpick Thanksgiving Table Challenge

Students must construct a Thanksgiving table only using toothpicks and glue. The table must be at least 6 inches long and 4 inches wide, but no longer than 1 ft by 6 inches. The table cannot have more than 4 legs. The challenge is to make the table as strong as possible. At the end of the challenge, students will place weights on top the table. The STEM group with the table that holds the most weight wins the challenge! Students have three days to complete this challenge (to allow for drying time).

Sep 3, 2017

Rock Cycle STEM Challenges!

Rock Cycle STEM weathering and erosion

Hey Teacher Friends,

Right now I'm in the process of creating a series of STEM projects for students who are studying Earth Science.. The current unit I'm focusing on is the Rock Cycle! After doing a little research, I came up with two great STEM projects that are simple enough to create in the classroom. Initially I originally thought these projects might be too simple for 4th-6th grade, but they are much more difficult to pull off than they appear!

I first discuss with students the three different types of rock (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic) and how they are formed. Igneous is formed by the heating and cooling of lava. Sedimentary is formed by the deposition of material at the earth's surface and within bodies of water. Metamorphic rocks were once igneous or sedimentary rocks and have changed from high temperatures or pressure. I then have students brainstorm if it is possible to demonstrate each of the rock cycle phases by using crayons!

Without giving them the answers, I question how could they change the state of the crayons to represent the different formations,... This is where the fun begins with STEM challenges!  

STEM Activity #1: Rock Cycle Challenge with Crayons! 

Rock Cycle STEM weathering and erosion

Here's the Challenge: Using a list of supplies, students must demonstrate the rock cycle and the different rock formations that occur during the process. All three types of rock must be present in the cycle. Students must collect a small sample of rock during each phase and it must be labeled which type it is. STEM groups have three trials to complete this challenge.. They must complete the challenge in 75 minutes. ***See end of post for more information on supplies!

STEM Activity #2: Erosion and Weathering with Rock Cliffs! 

Students must demonstrate how weathering and erosion affects our landscape. They must build four rock cliffs using sugar cubes and decide on different weathering and erosion strategies for each rock cliff (one strategy per rock cliff).  A strategy  can be a combination of wind and rain effects or another way to break down the rocks. They must describe and label each strategy they came up with. (Ex: 10 drops of water and 5 seconds of shaking in plastic container – rain and wind)  The goal is to find a wide variety of results from different weathering and erosion strategies.  They have one hour to complete this challenge. 


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