Wednesday, November 18, 2015
This Thanksgiving STEM Challenge encourages students to help prevent the turkeys from becoming Thanksgiving dinner by building a fast-moving turkey stunt double out of common household items within a limited amount of time. The students work through the STEM Design Process - building a prototype, testing these turkeys by "racing" them, and then making improvements to make the turkeys faster.
Your classroom will be buzzing with positive activity throughout this challenge. Students get excited to sketch and share their ideas with each other to make the fastest turkey. The element of limited time also causes the students to have a sense of urgency that keeps this activity at a high energy level!
The middle school kids in grades 5-8 are expected to identify the need, research the problem, design a solution by writing detailed procedures and sketching prototypes, build and test a prototype, and troubleshoot. The younger students in grades 3-5 are asked to follow the same steps - but in a simpler way. These kiddos will Ask, Imagine, Create, and Improve.
The most awesome part of facilitating a STEM Challenge, for me, is to witness the extraordinary creativity that your students will exhibit during this type of an activity. As adults, we have lost a lot of our imagination - so when we see a handful of random household objects listed as materials, we think: What do you do with these??? We think there has to be one certain way to make whatever it is we are being challenged to design. But, the kids will be able to come up with design ideas beyond what we could have ever imagined! There might be a couple kids that need a few minutes to grease the wheels of innovation, but once they get going there will be no stopping their enthusiasm!
Starting STEM in elementary is a fantastic way for kids to fall in love with science. The kids learn how to cultivate their thinking by following the STEM Design Process during a time when they already think outside of the box! These steps will help them create even more advanced prototypes and troubleshoot at a higher analytical level as they get older - hopefully leading them to successful career paths!
Do you love doing STEM in your classroom? Check out this free STEM Design Process Poster for elementary science! (Coming Soon to my TpT Store as a freebie! Follow me on social media or my store to get a notification when it is posted!)
Love this activity but don't have the time to design it yourself? A student handout, corresponding presentation, and detailed lesson plan is available in my TeachersPayTeachers store for grades 3-5 and grades 5-8 in either PowerPoint or SMART Board formats!