Back-to-School STEM Challenge Bundle

Why start the school year with Back-to-School STEM / STEAM challenges?

There are a lot of great reasons! STEM Challenges help you:

  • Practice and establish routines & procedures
  • Build community
  • Get to know how your kids tick
  • Cover science standards on forces & interactions and Newton’s three laws of motion
    • NGSS physical science standards (3PS2-1, 5PS2-1, MS-PS2-1, and MS-PS2-2) for 3rd, 5th grade and middle school are addressed.
  • Bring some joy to your classroom with collaborative, hands-on, brain-busting work (disguised as fun)!

The Basics:

Using simple materials (apple & school supplies), students work in partners or groups against criteria & constraints lists to design and build solutions to challenge problems. Every challenge includes modifications for grades 2-8.

All five Back-to-School STEM challenges are shown in greater detail below along with links to resources, blog posts, video walk-throughs, and teacher feedback on the resource. They can be used any time during the school year, but they’re perfect for fall, especially if you have apple activities or lessons around Sir Isaac Newton or Johnny Appleseed!

Teacher Feedback on the Back-to-School Bundle

I always recommend Apples Aloft as the first STEM Challenge of the school year, but it works any time. It’s a twist on a classic tower challenge where students use school supplies to create the tallest tower possible that will hold at least one apple aloft. As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Apples Aloft

In the Apples Afar STEM Challenge, students design and build a cantilever to suspend an apple as far away from a desk’s edge as possible. As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Apples Afar

This is a student and teacher favorite in the back-to-school series! In the Apples A-head STEM Challenge, students will design and build a wearable device to balance an apple on their heads, which they will use to participate in an Apples A-head relay race.

Students will design their headwear in groups, but each will make his/her own (to minimize any lice concerns). They can decide as a team, and based on available materials, if each member will create unique designs or replicate the team design.

As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Apples A-head

In the Apple Annihilator STEM Challenge, students will design and build an apple wrecking ball built for annihilation and/or accuracy!

Students will set up marker “bowling pins” and try to knock down as many as possible using their apple wrecking ball designs. A template is included in the resource.

As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Apple Annihilator

In the Apple Ally STEM Challenge, students will design and build an apple catcher to keep falling apples from hitting the ground.

As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

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Finding the right back-to-school activities can be tricky! STEM Challenges fit the bill perfectly: they're great ice breakers to build community and teamwork in your classroom. These STEM Challenges use apples and school supplies as the materials for brain-busting work disguised as fun! Click through for more details on each Back-to-School STEM Challenge including video walk-throughs with modifications for grades 2-8!