Summer STEM Challenges

Looking for summer / end of the year activities that your students will love but are more than just a craft or activity to pass the time? These Summer STEM Challenges (or STEAM Challenges) will keep your students engaged in brain-busting work disguised as fun!

From this hub page, you will find everything you need to know about all five summer STEM challenges: links to resources, blog posts, video walk-throughs, and teacher feedback on each resource.


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Summer / End of the Year STEM Challenge Basics:

Students work in partners or groups against criteria & constraints lists to design and build summer themed items using science, technology, engineering, and math skills to complete the tasks and extensions. Modification suggestions are included to make these challenges engaging and productive for students in grades 2 – 8.

Working against a Criteria & Constraints List in partners/groups, students will design and build a water slide built for speed, thrills, and safety.

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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Individually or in partners, students will select items to pack for a road trip. In this 2-D simulation of a 3-D task, students arrange items with different point values into pre-defined car trunk spaces. They can’t have it all, though! They’ll use a criteria & constraints list to bring all of what they need and some of what they want, as they aim for the highest point value.

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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Working against a Criteria & Constraints List in partners or groups, students will design and build two devices: one to slow the melting process (Keep it Cool) and one to speed it up (Make it Melt).

*This challenge is perfect for addressing NGSS standards for energy and structure & properties of matter. See related standards list at the end of the resource description.

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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Working against a Criteria & Constraints list individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a summer-proof* case for a smart phone. (No actual smart phones will be harmed in this activity; they’ll create weighted test phones!)

*Summer-proof = waterproof & retrievable when dropped in a body of water

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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Working against a Criteria & Constraints List individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a water scoop purpose-built for volume and stability to be used in a relay race: The Drippin’ Dash.

  • If students work in groups, it is recommended that they make at least two designs so they have a back up available if one fails during the race.

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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Pin Me!

Summer STEM Challenges are the perfect end of year activities to keep your students engaged in problem-solving and critical thinking! Click through to the summer STEM hub page for five fresh and fun STEM ideas for the end of the school year, including blog posts, video walk-throughs and more for all five spring & Easter STEM Challenges! Modifications included for grades 2 -8.

The boat challenge is not part of the summer bundle; it’s perfect any time of the year!

Working against a Criteria & Constraints List individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a boat that is designed for capacity and/or speed. You can choose to run the challenge as a single 20-30 minute fun building task to do on a rainy day, or select from multiple options to add layers of depth and rigor.

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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