Winter STEM Challenge with Frosty the Snowman

STEM Activities for Frosty the Snowman 

STEM That is Easy to Implement

This story is one of my favorites of the "Pick Your Path STEMventure" series. This story is about beloved Frosty, and helping to make his day the BEST.DAY.EVER. Students decide how they want the story to progress; in completing the story students will complete 3-4 challenges. The story not only guides students through the engineering design process, it includes design constraints and areas for them to fill in their thoughts, plans, and testing data. However, you don't need the resource in order to do just the building parts. Read on to find some fun and creative STEM activities you can do to make Frosty the snowman have a great day!

If you do use the resource I created, students will read through a story about Frosty, and then choose where they would like him to go. Depending on their choice, they will encounter different STEM challenges along the way.

Sled STEM Challenge 

Sleds are an excellent tool to teach students about force and motion, potential and kinetic energy, and friction. Can your students design and create a sled that Frosty can fit in and use? You could use a mini figure or paper Frosty as shown:

Race sleds down a cardboard box on a slope, or use a large sheet of plastic cardboard (find at your local hardware store). It makes a great snow hill! Try different materials to see which ones travel best downhill. Shown are legos, and a section of plastic egg carton covered with vinyl tablecloth.

An Unlikely Winter STEM Challenge - Hammock

Why would Frosty need a hammock? Well, you'd have to read the story to find out. This is a simple challenge that kids always love. Who doesn't love relaxing in a hammock?

Do you want to build a snow-less snowman?

There are several other challenges you can do with a snowman, including building one (use baking soda to make inexpensive fake snow). Students can challenge themselves to build a regular snowman and one that is upside down, as well! For older students, have them hypothesize the correct ratio of baking soda to water to make "snow" that sticks together and holds a shape. They can then test it out and create a recipe, then build their snowmen.

Find this STEM Resource on Teachers pay Teachers

If you would like to use the story and printables I've created, you can find them on Teachers pay Teachers at this link, Snowman STEMventure:

or save these ideas for later by pinning this on Pinterest:

Why Learn Greek and Latin Roots

Learning Greek and Latin Roots

Many words in the English language have Greek or Latin roots. When you start delving into STEM fields, that number only increases. If your students are interested in pursuing careers in a STEM field, knowledge of root words can only increase their understanding and fluency of terminology in the field. Those aren't the only benefits of studying root words, however.

Why Learn Greek and Latin Roots?

Even if you don't love language, there are so many reasons to get familiar with Greek and Latin root words. As students move into increasingly technical textbooks and fields of study, the terminology itself can feel overwhelming. When you are able recognize at least a portion of a new word, it helps to ease the mind a bit.

This is especially important for students choosing a STEM career path. Every STEM field has words with Greek and Latin roots.
Even the names of the fields themselves draw from these languages:

  • biology: the study of life (Greek "bio")
  • mathematics: learning, mental discipline (Greek "máthēma")
  • science: from the Latin scire, "to know"
  • engineering: from the Latin ingenium, "cleverness" and ingeniare, "to contrive, devise" (from Wikipedia)
  • architecture: Greek, meaning "chief builder"
  • astronomy: the study of stars, space  (Greek ástron, "star")

Greek and Latin Roots for Standardized Testing Preparation 

In order for students to get into college or graduate school, they will need to take standardized tests. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of standardized testing, it's still a requirement for applications of most major universities. Knowing Greek and Latin roots strengthens vocabulary and can be used to help decipher unfamiliar words in reading passages. Even if the precise meaning of the word is still a mystery, students can still make an educated guess on the meaning.

Introduce Greek and Latin Roots with a Collaborative Pennant Activity 

Have each student choose a root (or assign them) and have students doodle images that represent the root, or write words with the root on the pennant. Display the pennant so that students can refer to them. You can create your own or use the templates I have created.

Improve Retention by Playing Root Word Games

Greek and Latin Roots Pair Stare
I have created several root word games and a collaborative pennant activity so that root words can be put on display in your classroom. Try root words BINGO, root words pair stare, or both! Games are my favorite way to encourage my kids to learn - usually they are having so much fun they don't even realize they are actually learning something! Learn and use over 60 root words by getting the complete bundle here. You will get the pennant templates, printables to explore the root words, and two games each of pair stare and BINGO.

More Sources for Learning Root Words

Some websites I have found useful when learning about root words:

Online Etymology Dictionary

Online Games to learn roots:
It's Greek to Me game on Scholastic
Root word memory 
Various root word skills 

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5 Awesome End of Year STEM Challenges

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

Paper Airplane STEM

Boats: Choose from in-depth Engineering Design Challenge (read this post for more about it) or a quick STEM challenge for boats.

Bubble Wand STEM Challenge

Egg Drop STEM Challenge

Or try these three STEM challenges bundled together:

Pin these End of Year STEM ideas for later:

5 Great STEM Challenges for the end of the school year!

Bird Beak STEM - Animal Adaptations STEM Adventure

STEM Activities for Elementary Students to explore Bird Beaks and Pollination

STEM That is Easy to Implement

This is the fifth installment of the "Pick the Path STEMventure" series. This story is about a budding ornithologist, Beth, as she visits a nature sanctuary and learns about various birds. Students decide how they want the story to progress; in completing the story students will complete 3-4 challenges. The story not only guides them through the engineering design process, it includes design constraints and areas for them to fill in their thoughts, plans, and testing data.

If you are studying animal adaptations, pollination, or even ecosystems, these are some engaging hands-on activities that your students will enjoy exploring!

Pollination STEM Challenge 

Pollination is a concept that can be difficult for kids to understand. In this challenge, they will transfer "pollen" (which can be chalk dust, flour, etc.) from one flower to another.

A bonus in the resource I created is a page all about pollination. Students learn the basics and can color in the flower diagram to get a better idea of how plant reproduction takes place.

Another Bird Themed STEM Challenge - Eating

Do you know how hummingbirds eat? They don't use their long beak like a straw, but use their tongues to lap up nectar much like a dog does. In this challenge, kids will have to try to grab the food at the bottom of a tube. They will be glad this isn't a requirement for their own meals because it's harder than it looks! The food can be anything that can be picked up, but I use pompoms. In addition to grabbing the item (such as with chopsticks), students can "hook" onto the food. If you are learning about magnets, you could absolutely work this in. Have the magnet be the food, and students will need to use an item in their "tongue" that is attracted to magnets in order to pick up the food.

My favorite challenge in this story explores wading birds and different types of beaks. Can you pick up the food but allow the water to drain out? Can you stab the food?

There are other types of bird beaks to explore as well, and this is a great time to talk about the food chain, the environment, and being a good Earth citizen. What would happen if a bird's food supply goes away? Would they be able to adapt? Would their beak work well to eat another kind of food? These are big questions but I find most kids are ready to tackle them.

Find this STEM Resource on Teachers pay Teachers

If you would like to use the story and printables I've created, you can find them on Teachers pay Teachers at this link, Bird Beak STEM:

or save these ideas for later by pinning this on Pinterest:

Beginning Circuits Activities for Kids that are Easy to Implement!

Paper Circuit fun with Chibi Lights

I just adore Snap Circuits, but occasionally it's nice to keep a project together to take home or create something, like a card, to send to someone else. In these cases, paper circuits are a great option!

Disclaimer: Please note that Chibitronics did send me kits to review, but the opinions expressed are completely my own. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you downloads of value and information about educational resources. The links below are Amazon affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.

What is the Chibi Lights Kit good for?

I think this kit is best suited for a holiday or birthday gift. It is a great way to encourage a child who is either crafty or interested in circuits (or both!). This is also a good option for Makerspaces that host afterschool or weekend enrichment classes, provided they can charge enough to cover the cost. It would be a great activity near the holidays to create a special card or display as a gift.

What is the Chibi Lights Kit NOT good for?

A classroom setting, unless you have been awarded a grant and have a special project in mind (or if you can charge a fee). It would be too costly otherwise.

 Things we liked about the Chibitronics Sticker Circuit Kit

  • Easy to read, learn, and use. After unpacking the box, we had built our first circuit within minutes. You can't get much easier than that for implementation!
  • The booklet includes fun activities that are engaging for kids. It also includes thorough and useful background information needed to understand and complete the projects.
  • All of the components that are needed for the basic projects are provided.

A few things we thought could be better:

  • Two times, we thought we made our circuit wrong because it wasn't working quite right. Unfortunately as is sometimes the case with electrical components, the LEDs were just not good. This happens with regular (large) LEDs too sometimes, but we wonder if it happens more often with the tiny LEDs. Switching out the LEDs proved that that was the issue but it was a little hard to debug. It's also possible we got a bad batch.
  • The copper tape tears really easily. That is why I am recommending this for ages 10+ unless you have a very careful child.
  • The one-time use factor. We knew this going in, but it would be nice to at least reuse the LEDs somehow. 

All in all, I think this is a great kit to expose kids to circuits. The guidebook/sketchbook was much better than I was expecting and is very much worth it for the educational component. The kids get excited when they see their circuit working!

You can purchase the Chibi Lights Kit here:

or find examples of projects to try by clicking this link to go to the Chibitronics Gallery.

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Wind Powered Sailboat - Spring STEM Challenge

STEM Challenge for Spring: Harness the Wind with a Sailboat

A multifaceted STEM challenge that can be done outside on a nice day!

Warning: You May Get Wet with this STEM Challenge

Why try this challenge? In addition to creating something that is useful, students will be honing their spacial reasoning and mathematics skills while designing and creating their garden box. It may even inspire your students to create a full sized garden bed where they can plant their favorite flowers, plants, or vegetables.

Gather Materials for Sailboat STEM

First, gather all materials needed for the challenge:

You will need a tub, storage bin, kiddie pool, etc. for this challenge. You will also need a desk fan to supply the wind. Please use caution operating the fan near the water. You can partition the container to have racing lanes if you want to let your students race the boats. I used a piece of pipe insulation. Students can create their boats with aluminum foil, popsicle sticks, plastic egg carton pieces, etc. They will need to use material for a sail and mount it to their boat. Not only does the boat need to float, it also needs to move forward with the wind.

Design and create a sailboat - Spring STEM challenge. #stemeducation from Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Go Deeper with Science in this STEM Challenge

Have your students research drag and buoyancy. Ask:

Where is drag advantageous, and when do engineers try to avoid it? 

When might you want a water vessel to NOT be buoyant?

What skills do students work on? In addition to following the Engineering Design Process to complete this challenge, students will need to work together and may need to make several modifications to improve their sail designs.

Add more rigor into this activity with the STEM challenge resource (or get the pack of Spring STEM challenges) on Teachers pay Teachers:

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Design and create a sailboat - Spring STEM challenge. #stemeducation from Meredith Anderson - Momgineer