Back to school time can be filled with stress, for both you and the students. With the transitions and demands of a new school year, you might not think you have time to do something that seems like an end of the year treat with your new students. While going over procedures and expectations is on the top of your list, I hope you will consider using some unique team-building and ice-breaking activities with your students. They will help build trust and cooperation and set off the new year on the right foot!
A Tower STEM ChallengeOne of the most fun back to school STEM challenges is the No Peeking challenge! If you have ever tried a STEM challenge with your students before, there is a good chance it involved tower building. Whether you used cups, blocks, marshmallows and spaghetti, or some other material, this is a very common starter STEM challenge.
Back to school STEM gives it a slightly different twist! You can see in the image above what that is. That's right, for this challenge, the builder will be blindfolded (or have their eyes shut!). That means the rest of the team needs to tell the builder how and where to build the tower using verbal commands. Tower building has never been so difficult, or more fun!
There are several modifications for this one but I know it's one your students will be talking about for weeks! Here's another action shot with a variation (behind the back tower building - this is not only a mental challenge but a physical challenge as well):
Brain Busting STEM Challenge - Memory DashAnother fun cooperative challenge that will also stretch your students' brains? Memory Dash!
The plan is actually quite important, which they will quickly realize the first time through the challenge. Subsequent attempts will go much more smoothly as they tweak their communication and assembly process! Tip: keep the structure simple and have each team recreate the same one. Use simple manipulatives like cubes, dice, etc. Time the challenge with a stopwatch or timer. Your students will hopefully improve their assembly times with each attempt, using what they learned from previous attempts.
This challenge can give students a great perspective into what your job is like as a teacher. Because one of the team members needs to instruct the rest of the team, they need to make sure they not only communicate clearly, but that the rest of the team is actually listening to what they are saying and then following through on it!
Back to School STEM Pencil ChallengeIn addition to the team builders included in the Back to School STEM resource I put together, there are also individual challenges that can be done when you need to take a brain break, or if you need tasks for early finishers. One of these is even practical for your classroom: the Pencil Keeper Challenge!
Do your students lose track of where their pencils are? They may be more apt to keep them where they belong if they have a device they've made on their own. They can take pride in it every time they use it! You can also have them design pencil keepers to host pencils in various parts of the classroom if you'd like! I hope these give you some ideas of ways you can start off the new school year with STEM! If you are looking for more ideas or recording pages for these and more ideas, please consider visiting:
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Have a great school year!
*Photos by Snapshots by Amy