April 2017 - momgineer

The Best STEM Challenge EVER

The Best STEM Challenge for Grades 3-6

The Best STEM Challenge EVER! Design and create a cargo ship with the engineering design process. Build a boat and test it out while learning about density, buoyancy, and Archimedes' Principle. Read the post for 8 more amazing STEM challenges!  | Meredith Anderson -  Momgineer

Improve Student Learning with a STEM Challenge

If you are learning about density, buoyancy, or Archimedes' principle, this is a the perfect STEM challenge to learn about what density really means in a hands-on way. This is also a great activity to tie into social studies concepts, whether you are learning about explorers, The Mayflower, or the history of transportation.

Students need to use their findings from an aluminum foil science experiment and apply what they learn to their boat design.

Top 3 Reasons Students LOVE this STEM Challenge

The Best STEM Challenge EVER! Design and create a cargo ship with the engineering design process. Build a boat and test it out while learning about density, buoyancy, and Archimedes' Principle. Read the post for 8 more amazing STEM challenges!  | Meredith Anderson -  Momgineer

As you can tell from the image above, this group of students decided to try out additional materials to see if they could increase the buoyancy of their cargo ships. Some fun ideas I observed were using straws and balloons. I love their creativity!

Because you can succeed at this challenge with just aluminum foil, it leaves a lot of room for improvement and modification ideas. This is a challenge that works great outdoors, because testing boats in water is just easier to do when clean up is a snap. Kids love to be outside and don't mind getting wet. They are also always amazed at just how many pennies a boat can hold. They will test and re-test their ships as long as you let them, tweaking the design here and there to see if they can make it even stronger.

Why Teachers LOVE this STEM Challenge

It's not just about the hands-on fun part. Any kid who has used a pool noodle or flotation device will have a pretty good idea about density and what will float, but what about materials that don't seem buoyant? How does a huge cruise ship float? Can a concrete canoe float?

The Best STEM Challenge EVER! Design and create a cargo ship with the engineering design process. Build a boat and test it out while learning about density, buoyancy, and Archimedes' Principle. Read the post for 8 more amazing STEM challenges!  | Meredith Anderson -  Momgineer

Use Higher-Order Thinking and Soft Skills

Students need to use HOTS to solve this engineering challenge, but they will also gain important soft skills practice, like perseverance and working in a team. Growth mindset and STEM challenges go hand in hand, too. Why? Failure is bound to happen. Improving the initial design is a vital part of any STEM challenge.

Here's what some teachers are saying about this challenge:

"The warm up activity was phenomenal! I told the kids (high school resource room) that it would be a challenge to make the tin foil ball small enough to sink and they ate it up! They found creative ways to squished the tinfoil down (Stepping on it was the most successful)"

Great resource! Very thorough and provided excellent extensions. Thank you very much!"

"I love how thorough it is! It takes you step by step over the fundamentals and it's easy to use. Thank you!"

Dig Deeper with the Best STEM Challenge EVER

In addition to the warm up science activity and text, I have included math extension activities as a follow-up. These come in two levels so they can be used for different age ranges or to differentiate.

This is one of my favorite STEM challenges to do with students. They are always surprised just how many pennies their cargo ships can hold. They also realize that stability plays an important part in their ship's design. If they add all of the pennies to one spot, will their boat tip over?

Get the challenge on Teachers pay Teachers, or save money with a bundle of great engineering challenges:


Pin this challenge to save it for later!
The Best STEM Challenge EVER! Design and create a cargo ship with the engineering design process. Build a boat and test it out while learning about density, buoyancy, and Archimedes' Principle. Read the post for 8 more amazing STEM challenges!  | Meredith Anderson -  Momgineer

More Amazing STEM Challenges Your Students Will LOVE

Click on any of the images below to read about more STEM challenges from other STEM educators.
Brittany Washburn
Digital STEM Challenges
Boat STEM Meredith Anderson
Cargo Ship STEM
Get Caught Engineering
Animal Adaptations STEM
Brooke Brown - Teach Outside the Box
Roller Coaster STEM
Vivify STEM
STEM Space Lander
More Than a Worksheet
Paper Chain STEM
Sammie STEAM Challenge
Teachers are Terrific
Toothpick Tower STEM
Science School Yard
Simple Machines Challenges

Graphics and Font Credits: KG Fonts and PhotoClipz

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

How to Make Homemade Scratch Art Paper in 3 Easy Steps

Easy DIY Scratch Art Paper 

Scratch art paper is fun to use, but I think it might even be more fun to make! My kids gave this project two thumbs up.

Gather Materials for your Scratch Art Paper

  • card stock
  • crayons
  • black tempera paint
  • dish soap
  • paint brushes, foam brushes, or sponges   
  • bamboo skewers or wooden scratch sticks from a scratch art set

Start Coloring!

Cut the card stock in half or even quarters if you want the sheets to be more manageable. Use the crayons to color the entire page. It's particularly fun to use all the colors of the rainbow!

Scratch Art Paper Step 1: Color a good amount of the card stock!

Mix it Up

Use a 50/50 mixture of black tempera paint and dish detergent and paint over the colors (a foam brush works well).
Scratch Art Paper Step 2: Paint over your colors

Create Your Scratch Art Designs

After the paint has dried, it's time to scratch off the black layer! This is the fun part!

Pin this post to easily come back to it later!

DIY scratch art paper in 3 easy steps! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Save Money on Teachers pay Teachers with These 3 Tips

Make a Wish

What do you wish you had more of? If you are a teacher or homeschool parent, I'd be surprised if time or money isn't on your wish list. What if I told you there was a way to have more time for yourself without spending all your money?

Save Time with TpT

High-quality resources from Teachers pay Teachers don't just support your students, they support you. Take the time out of planning by using a resource we have already tested out and compiled for you! Use that extra time to do whatever your passion is or take some self-care time.

I Love TpT but my Wallet is Sad!

Maybe you already spent all your money on Flair Pens this month, or took one too many trips to the Target Dollar Spot (welcome to the club, by the way).

I'm guessing you are already aware of how much time teacher created resources can save you. The expenses can start to add up, though, particularly if you are in need of year-long bundles or are teaching multiple grades. Here's the good news: you can save some of that money! It's as easy as 1-2-3!

1. Follow Your Favorites

Follow on Social Media and on TpT

Make sure you are following your favorite stores on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you are aware of special discounts and sales. Other ways to keep tabs on your favorite teacher authors? Follow them on TpT (click on the green star or  "Follow" at the top of the store page) and subscribe to their newsletter! I love to send out surprise freebies to my subscribers. It's my favorite way to thank your for being an awesome follower and supporter.

2. Earn Free Credits by Leaving Feedback

Earn Free Credits by Leaving Feedback
Go grab a Benjamin right now and flush it down the toilet. Who am I kidding? Let's face it, you are probably fresh out of Benjamins. So grab a good old Lincoln and flush that instead.

If you aren't already doing this, it's the same thing as flushing poor Abe. After you make a purchase on TpT, go to "Buy" --> "My Purchases" and sort by "Needs Feedback." Click on "Provide Feedback" and then write a short statement about the resource. If you want to be really helpful, provide the grade level you used it for, the most useful part of the resource, and anything else you loved about it. Was it easy to use? Did your kids work independently and happily on the activity? Include that! We love to hear it and you will be helping out others who might be interested.

Have a problem with the resource or find an error? We want to hear about that too! To make sure the store owner reads that right away (and hopefully fixes any possible errors), click on Q&A and write a short note about any issue you might have. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes now and then, but I promise we are also willing to fix them!

3. Claim a Tax Deduction

Don't Throw Away Those Deductions!

Disclaimer: I am not an accountant. Please check with your own accountant to verify you can do this. Some of your educator expenses may be tax deductible! Here is a great article from TurboTax about how this might apply to you. Pro tip: save all your receipts! On TpT, it's easy to find and print your receipts. Go to "Account" --> "My Account" and then click on the Annual Purchase Statement.

Again, Those 3 Tips are:

  • Follow your favorite sellers
  • Use your credits
  • Take your tax benefits

Pin It! 

Share this on Pinterest or Facebook so your friends can save money, too!

SIX ways to shop smarter on Teachers pay Teachers - Follow these tips to keep more money in your pocket while shopping for high quality classroom resources! | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Get 3 MORE Tips

Say what? Save even more by heading over to Brittany Washburn's post for tips 4-6!


momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

STEM Builds for Easter

Easter-themed STEM Builds!

Do you love building holiday-themed objects with your kids? You can build in 2D for younger kids, or 3D for kids who are expert builders. The little ones' imaginations and creativity never cease to amaze me. Here are some fun ideas to get started:
  • Animal Easter STEM  - rabbit, chick, or duck
  • Food Easter STEM - carrot, jelly bean, egg (think outside the box - do a whole egg, or for something different try a fried egg!)
  • Object Easter STEM - egg holder/cup, basket, jelly bean dispenser
If you are looking to make this a more educational activity, I have developed a set of STEM mats with design criteria.

Pin the image to save it for later:

Or, get the STEM Mats now:

What are STEM Mats? Watch the video to find out, and get a sample STEM mat to try it out.

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!