2015 - momgineer

New Year's STEM Sale

Start off 2016 right by engaging your students with STEM, and do it with these discounts on December 31, 2015 and January 1, 2016. Seven other bloggers and I are discounting 2 of our favorite STEM resources each, to help you ring in the new year and have a STEMTASTIC 2016! Click on the graphic below to go directly to all of the resources discounted:

I have just bundled two of my top STEM resources into a 20 STEM challenge set. With the bundle discount and the extra 20% off, you are getting one set almost free! The other bundle I have discounted is my STEM Tales BUNDLE!

You can get STEMTASTIC in 2016! This STEM  bundle is ideal for grades 2-6, though these challenges can be done with older students as well (or even used for team building with your colleagues!).
 The 20 STEM Challenges bundle includes the following challenges:
Design a Bridge
Design a Paper Airplane
Design a Shelter
Tallest Tower
Challenging Maze
Pompom Launcher
Float a Boat
Fast & Slow Sled (can be seen in action on this blog post)
What a Drag
Cantilever Challenge
BONUS: All Aboard the Gear Train
Design a Zip Line
Design a Windmill
Fidget Fix
Code Creator (create simple code with conditional statement IF ELSE, no computer necessary!)
Design a Musical Instrument
Bubble Maker
Elevator Challenge
Design a Hammock
Printing Press
Windshield Wipers (synthesize a 4-bar linkage)

Pictured above are two of the STEM Tales in action. STEM Tales use a familiar story to inspire STEM learning (Rapunzel, Robin Hood, and Goldilocks). Help Rapunzel escape from her tower, Robin Hood repay his debts and win the archery competition, and build a new bed for Goldilocks! These challenges are ideal for grades 1-3.

You can read more about the resources included in this promotion by clicking on the links below:
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Introductory Engineering Design Challenges

Introduce Your Kids to the Engineering Design Process

These two STEM engineering challenges are a great way to introduce your kids to the engineering design process (EDP). If you haven't followed the EDP before, this is the perfect way to start. Want to know more about the process? These are the basic steps (click here to head to the post where you can download the graphic):


See the engineering design process in action here with a STEM fairy tale challenge (the steps will be the same).

The Engineering Design Process for Kids

The engineering design process is a way to solve problems in a methodical way. This simple, 5 step process will become second nature as you tackle more and more engineering design challenges.

STEM Challenge - Design a Transport Device

The first of the challenges is very basic: design a device to transport an object (where you don't use your hands at all). Two of the suggestions are to transport pencils and paperback books, and there are also suggestions for materials to use, though you can always use what you have on hand. All of these devices were made with paper, tape, cardboard tubes, string, and plastic cups.

Here is a fun design where the case slides back and forth. This one worked for both pencils and the books!

I love this idea to make a belt with a pencil holder! Here is the front:
and the back! It can be tied and untied. How fun!

Design a Tower STEM Activity

STEM engineering design challenge #2 is to design a power transmission tower. This challenge uses pipe cleaners, which are an interesting building material. They are fairly rigid but can be formed into other shapes by twisting and bending.
The warm up activity has tasks to introduce shaping the pipe cleaners. It's harder than it looks, and it is a great team building activity. This design challenge requires that the students take data in the form of measurements. The tower must fall in a height range (not too short or too tall), and must use a maximum of 50 pipe cleaners.
The towers might be on the simple side:

 ...or get really complicated!
You can always modify an engineering design challenge if it is proving to be too frustrating for your kids. We love using magnets for a quick recap/build in a lot of our building challenges!

Once you have worked through the EDP a few times, it will become more methodical and you can use it in future STEM challenges. If you have tried these challenges, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Find more details by clicking on these resources:

STEM Engineering Challenge Design a Transport DeviceSTEM Engineering Challenge - Design a Tower

Educents TOP PICKS for January K-8

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

STEM Tales - A new bed for Golidlocks!

Fairy Tale STEM Activity - Goldilocks

Try a hands-on STEM challenge with Goldilocks and the Three Bears!

This STEM activity is designed for lower elementary kids. I am so excited to share some details about it! STEM tales introduce the youngest budding engineers to STEM, by taking a familiar story and using it to walk through the engineering design process. Do you love telling and re-telling stories with your kids? Do you ever change the ending to spice it up a bit? That's exactly what we do with STEM tales!

Integrate Literacy and STEM 

The 8-page book provides an alternative ending to this story. Your students need to help make a bed for Goldilocks. Goldilocks is simply a printed out figure, which you can add weigh to with either small masses, pennies, or washers.
Using whatever crafting materials you have handy (index cards and tape are really all that is needed, but feel free to use other supplies as well), create a new bed for Goldilocks.

The Testing Phase of the STEM Challenge

Is the bed large enough? Will it hold the weight of the figure? You will be surprised at the designs your students come up with!

After you have tested out the beds, it's time to introduce the bear family to the challenge (mama, papa, and baby, who is the same size as Goldilocks).

You will add heavier weights to mama and papa bear, and then test the designs again. This is a great way to demonstrate why it's important to know your design criteria before starting a STEM challenge! Mama bear may fit on some and not others, or papa bear may fit but weigh too much and collapse the bed.

Get the STEM Tale

Here is the link to the full resource. In addition to all the steps above, the 8-page story  book guides students through the engineering design process and also includes a self-evaluation check list.

Goldilocks STEM challenge 

Or pin the idea for later: 
Fairy Tale STEM Activity - Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. Design and create a new bed for Goldilocks! Meredith Anderson Momgineer


How to Conduct a STEM Tale Challenge

To read more about how to conduct a STEM challenge, visit this post:


To see all posts in this series, click here:

STEM Tales Blog Series

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Wordless Wednesday: early dinner

When you are too hungry and tired to go home and make dinner, so instead stop on the way home from class to have dinner at 3:30...and stack the crayons while waiting.

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Studying U.S. States with Zoob

I can't take credit for this idea (that goes to my 7 year old), but I just love it so much I have to share it! We love hands-on learning at home, and I love that this is a fun way to look at some of the features of United States geography.
U.S. States hands-on learning
My son walked into the kitchen the other day holding up a shape he had made out of ZOOB pieces. "Hey Mom, doesn't this look like Nevada?" he said. We have been playing the game, the Scrambled States of America a lot lately, so it wasn't much of a surprise. I asked if I could take a photo of it with the card from the game:
U.S. states geography with zoob - Nevada
Then I asked him if he thought we could make any other states. he suggested we start with an "easy" state, like Wyoming:
U.S. states geography with zoob - Wyoming
We then reshaped the loop of ZOOB pieces into many other states, and I took photos of several of them with their corresponding cards from the Scrambled States of America game:
U.S. states geography with zoob - Ohio

U.S. states geography with zoob - Tennessee
Sorry this photo of Texas is blurry! My son realized he wouldn't be able to make the shape without adding more ZOOB pieces to the loop. This was some seriously fun hands-on geography learning that kept my son engaged for quite awhile!
U.S. states geography with zoob - Texas
The Scrambled States game is put out by Gamewright:

My 9 year old then had the idea of using the Scrambled States cards in a number of ways, so if you have the game you may want to have your kids do this too. You can order the states by geographic size by using the booklet that comes with the game. He also then had the idea of reordering the cards in the order they joined the union! At this point I'm pretty sure my kids know more about our states than I do!

ZOOB sets come in many different sizes and options. Look for them both at your local toy or learning store! They can be difficult to snap, and I would recommend them for children no younger than 6. My kids were happy building with LEGOs younger than they could easily work the ZOOB pieces, as they can be tricky to snap together. 
ZOOB 250 Piece Building Set 
Have you used ZOOB in your homeschool or classroom, or do you have another fun way to learn about geography? You may also want to read about how we studied landforms and water forms using play dough:

Landforms and Water Forms

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

A warm November, Halloween, and a brief homeschooling update!

We have been enjoying beautiful weather this fall! Today it is in the 70s (what? November?!) and we have been able to take advantage of it by taking lots of nature walks. We even got to do our STEM class outside today, woohoo! Here we are building and testing them out:


My kids had so much fun trick or treating this year. Here they are all dressed up:

This is the third year my eldest has been Darth Vader. Halloween costumes to be my kids' only low maintenance area! ^_^  My youngest made a Minecraft skeleton head and then he and I mad a bow and arrows together. We found some really cool glow in the dark tape to make the bones. Unfortunately I forgot to take a shot after it got dark out.

We continue to progress slowly through our studies though I am not feeling ambitious about homeschooling these days. I am reading a book aloud the kids seem to be enjoying, though I'm not sure they quite get the middle school flirting references quite yet at 9 and 7, they are finding the other parts quite humorous;

I have noticed that as we are focusing more on reading and writing at the moment, some math skills are slipping, so I'm thinking about getting 180 days of math for both my kids as review. There never seems to be enough time in the days to get through all of the things I want to do with the kids. Playing (imaginative, games, outdoor play) and our other activities (soccer, street hockey, swimming, music) eat a lot of our time. I know this is a common occurrence with homeschoolers, and that we are also attempting to tackle all kinds of subjects (like computer programming, engineering, and chess) that I never learned about as a kid. We have also been spending a lot of time outdoors and at museums, which I am okay with. This homeschooling journey can be tough, finding the balance of what needs to be done and what is okay to let go of in favor of other, more engaging, activities. Crossing my fingers these kids turn out okay in the end!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!