Back to School STEM Challenges

Back to School STEM Challenges

STEM challenges are the best way to begin building classroom community and teamwork at the beginning of the year. They are also a great way to introduce problem solving skills and get students thinking creatively and outside the box. 

The best part is students LOVE them, and they don't even realize they are learning!

The following are our top 5 picks for back to school STEM activities.

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For this first STEM activity, The Cup Pyramid Challenge,  students will need to be in groups of 4-5. Give each group 6 red cups, one rubber band, and one piece of string per student (approximately 3 feet long). 

The task students need to accomplish is to stack the 6 cups in a pyramid without touching them with their hands. Begin the activity with the cups all in one stack. If a student touches the cups with their hands the STEM activity restarts from the beginning.

Students have to figure out that they each need to tie their piece of string to the rubber band (for younger students do this step for them in advance). When students pull on their string the rubber band expands allowing them to slide it on top of the cup. On the other hand, when students release their pull the rubber band closes around the cup allowing them to easily maneuver it with the string.

This next STEM activity, The Marble Challenge,  is very similar to the first challenge. Students will need to be in groups of 4-5. Give each group 2 red cups, one rubber band, one piece of string per student (approximately 3 feet long), and 10 marbles. 

The task students need to accomplish is to transport all of the marbles from one cup to the other without touching the cups or marbles with their hands. Begin the activity with  the cups on the table in front of the students and all of the marbles in one cup. If a student touches the cups or marbles with their hands the STEM activity restarts from the beginning.

Students have to figure out that they each need to tie their piece of string to the rubber band (for younger students do this step for them in advance). When students pull on their string the rubber band expands allowing them to slide it on top of the cup. On the other hand, when students release their pull the rubber band closes around the cup allowing them to easily maneuver it with the string.

For this next STEM activity, The Straw Tower,  students will need to be in groups of 2-3. Give each group 20 plastic straws, 2 feet of tape, scissors, and a ruler. 

The task students need to accomplish is to build the tallest tower that stands on its own using only the given materials. 

Another great back to school STEM activity is The Tower of Books Challenge. For this challenge students will need to be in groups of 2-3. Give each group 1 piece of paper, 2 feet of tape, and scissors. 

The task students need to accomplish is to create a structure that can hold the most books without collapsing. 

Another fun back to school STEM activity is The Cup Tower Challenge. For this challenge students will need to be in groups of 2-3. Give each group 16 mini paper or plastic cups, 16 large popsicle sticks, and a ruler. 

The task students need to accomplish is to build the tallest tower using only the provided materials. 

For more back to school STEM activities with detailed teacher and student instructions and a student STEM journal be sure to check out our Beginning of the Year STEM Bundle!

We hope you have found this blog post helpful. To stay connected with Carly and Adam's teaching tips and classroom freebies be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterestTeachers Pay Teachers, and subscribe to our blog!

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