Once every three weeks, my school drops business as usual and conducts a STEM challenge. The Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math challenges are not connected to our curriculum or particular learning goal. Rather, they are undertaken simply for the love of science!
For the challenge, students are given an objective and a variety of materials. They are not given instructions on how to achieve the objective; Rather, they are challenged to problem solve and think creatively. Students may work individually or in groups, depending on the challenge and the teachers’ discretion.
Because we value process over product, it is important to introduce the challenge emphasizing, “the task is not easy, but will require creative thinking, experimentation, and problem solving”. Debriefing is also key, in asking, “what problems did you encounter? How did you solve them?”
Some STEM challenges I have found appropriate for Preschool aged children are:
Parachutes- Make a parachute for a toy.
Marble Maze– Make a maze from different materials to run a marble through.
Sponge Boats– How can you use a variety of materials to build a boat that floats?
Towers– Who can build the highest tower?
Extreme Patterns– Who make make the longest repeating pattern? The pattern with the most elements?
Bridges– Using a variety of materials, make a bridge sturdy enough to support a toy.
Grand Prix– Which toy car will go the furthest down ramps of varying degrees.
Paper Airplanes– Who can fold a paper airplane? Which one flies the furthest?
Zip Lines– Who can make a zip-line which can carry a toy all the way across the classroom?
Playdough– Who can make the best play dough when given a variety of ingredients and no recipe?
Mixing Colors– Using just red, yellow, and blue food coloring, who can make all the colors of the rainbow?
What STEM challenges do you do with your children? Leave a comment.