Looking for St. Patrick’s Day activities that your students will love but are more than just a craft or activity to pass the time? This St. Patrick’s STEM Challenge (or STEAM Challenge) will keep your students engaged in brain-busting work disguised as fun!
The basic premise:
Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a device to rid Ireland of snakes as quickly and safely as possible.
- Snakes (10 – 20) will be spread over a map of Ireland (three map options are provided). Student devices must lift snakes from Ireland and drop them in the surrounding ocean.
Note: The version you are viewing is compatible with Google Slides ™.
Click here for the printable version of this resource.
- 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 (editable version provided)
- Results and Design Analysis
- Map of Ireland (three printable choices provided in color and B&W)
- Discussion Questions
- Extension templates
- Snake Research Log
- Camouflage & Mimicry Research Log
- Writing templates
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
- Variety of snakes. (10 – 30)
- Gummy worms, Licorice, rotini noodles (raw or cooked), plastic snakes, twisted pipe cleaners, etc.
- Note: there is an option in the challenge to mix in other “creatures” with the snakes to add difficulty. You may elect to designate some of the materials listed above or select new ones.
- Craft sticks (5 – 10)
- Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
- String/yarn (12 – 24 in.)
- Straws (5 – 10)
- Tape (12 – 24 in.)
- Rubber bands (5 – 10)
- Second timer
- Design analysis handouts (included)
- Map of Ireland (Included)
- Place in sheet protectors or laminate (optional)
- Small cups or bowls
- Blue paper (ocean surrounding Ireland)
- Clothespins or binder clips (3 – 5)
- Paperclips (10 – 20)
- Toothpicks (10 – 20)
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.
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