Planetopia Plants STEM Challenge

Planetopia Plants STEM Challenge


Students work in individually or in partners or groups against a list of criteria and constraints to create a plant that has never been seen or imagined before. This challenge is part of the growing Planetopia Project series.

Teaching about plants and need the perfect activity to engage? This STEM / STEAM Challenge is perfect for applying learning in plant needs, parts/functions, adaptations, life cycles, cells, photosynthesis, and/or genetics & heredity.

This STEM Challenge is great any time of the year, but works especially well as a spring activity! The completed designs and extension projects make beautiful displays for Back to School Night or Open House as well!

The basic premise: 

Students work individually or in partners or groups against a list of criteria and constraints to create a plant that has never been seen or imagined before.

Check out the video preview to see what is included in this resource:


Note: If you are in a 1:1 classroom, you may prefer the
digital format, compatible with Google Slides ™.

Resource includes:

  • NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
  • Teacher Tips:
    • Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
    • Materials and timing
    • Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
    • Measuring results
    • Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts
    • Post-design extension activities list
    • Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
  • Student Handouts:
    • Criteria & Constraints List (in color and B&W; editable version provided)
    • Results and Design Analysis (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded) spacing for primary students included in color and and B&W)
    • Discussion Questions (color and B&W)
  • Extension templates
    • Process flow maps
    • Create & solve math problems based on designs
    • Plant Writing Templates
    • Planetopia Plants Folder/Booklet templates (editable)
      • General Information
      • Feature Spotlight
      • Life Cycle
      • Where in the World
      • Genetics/ Heredity
    • Plant Science Study Handouts (editable)
      • Plant Parts/Functions
      • Photosynthesis
      • Plant & Animal Cell Diagrams
      • Plant & Animal Cell Compare/Contrast
      • Plant Inquiry

Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified. You don’t need to provide all of the following materials. Select a subset and/or add in your own ideas.)

Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:

  • Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
  • Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience
  • High levels of student engagement
  • The potential to hit upon all NGSS ETS standards depending on the depth and number of iterations you choose to implement in your classroom (modifications included)
  • Highly flexible and differentiated for materials, timing, grade levels, and rigor.

Each design iteration should be planned for ~60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.

This resource is available in a digital 1:1 format, compatible with Google Slides (TM). It is also available in the Mega Bundle, and will soon be available in a discounted Planetopia Project bundle.

















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Preview Music Credit:

“Carefree” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


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