STEM Activities for the End of the School Year
You have made it far enough to start thinking about an end-of-year STEM challenge! Hopefully standardized testing is in your past and you are ready to tackle some classic (and new) challenges!
Get Outside with STEM Challenges
My best tip for the end of the school year is to take a challenge outside! Especially if you teach through a long winter, take every opportunity to get outside and learn.
Keep your students motivated to learn right up until the very last day. If you would like printable resources to go with some of these challenge, please scroll to the bottom of this post.
STEM Challenge #1 – Design and Create a Paper Airplane
This challenge is about as easy as you can get from a materials standpoint, but designing and creating a paper airplane is something you could do every day for a full year with a new design each day!
Start with a plain sheet of paper. Explore different folds, cuts, and strategic weights to change up the design. Can you create an airplane that flies far? What about one that will fly in a loop? What if you need the airplane to curve to the right or left on its flight? This one is so easy to differentiate!
Start with basic paper folding and creasing if you are doing this with young kids. I find that sometimes these skills are lacking and a quick lesson in how to line up edges and crease the paper really helps!
STEM Challenge #2 – Design and Create a Kite
Save this one for a field day or when you see there will be some wind to work in your favor. Students will need to balance form and function with their creative touches to make sure the kite will take flight!
STEM Challenge #3 – Design and Create a Cargo Ship
This is always a favorite challenge among students. You can either give students all the same materials and have them try to support the most mass using those materials, or you can give different teams different objects (of various size, weight) that they must carry in their boats. They can then compare the designs and try out other objects. Can their cargo ship carry a variety of cargo or just the one you initially specified?
STEM Challenge #4 – Design and Create a Bubble Wand
Blowing bubbles never gets old. Can you create a bubble wand that blows large bubbles? What about a wand that will create multiple bubbles at once? How about a bubble wand that creates a bubble that is not a sphere? Is it possible? Students can also work on recipes for homemade bubble solution to determine the ideal quantities of water, dish soap, and either glycerin or corn syrup.
STEM Challenge #5 – Don’t Crack Up! The Great Egg Drop STEM Challenge
This is a classic end of year challenge that works for elementary aged students all the way up through college! The simplest way to differentiate an egg drop challenge is to increase the drop height (you can use a foot or even one meter for each year of school, provided you have a tall enough building). Will students provide a cushion for the egg? A shock absorption feature? Maybe a way to slow the fall? There are endless possibilities here and testing is an absolute blast.
Find Resources to Guide you Through the Process
Kathleen Houlihan is a leader in workforce innovation and she is the Founder of an agency that reimagines talent acquisition and optimizes the system for candidates and employers. Her company, Dream2Career, provides human-centric ROI solutions that filter-in candidates who exceed expectations in the workplace.