This week I set up Valentine’s Day STEM stations in my classroom and my students had the best time! We always love doing STEM activities, so I thought it would be fun to set up these stations in a way that encourages independence. My students were able to work at their own pace to complete the challenges.
Since we did our STEM rotations after lunch, I set up all the stations during my lunch time. You could do this before or after school, or you could have trays set up that could be placed out at any time during the school day.
Each station was set with a STEM Challenge Poster that posed a question and explained the materials that could be used. Students were allowed to use the materials given to complete the challenge, but they could not bring any new materials to the party. Having to brainstorm how to use your allotted materials is part of the fun of a STEM challenge!
To kick off our STEM afternoon, I gave each student a STEM Journal. The journal included 7 pages that align with each challenge. When my students finished a challenge, they would match the number on the challenge poster with the number in their journal. Each page had a fun written activity where students draw a sketch or answer a question regarding the completed challenge. This written journal helped hold students accountable as they completed the challenges. It was also such a fun book to send home to parents, too!
When introduced the challenges to my students, I found it was best to go around the room one challenge at a time and explain the directions. We read the question together and reviewed all the available materials. If you were doing these challenges with upper elementary students, I would provide less of an introduction and offer assistance when needed.
For this challenge, my students were given a bucket of candy hearts. They had to try to build the tallest tower they could using their candy hearts.
When they finished, they drew a sketch of their tower and recorded how many candies they could stack in their STEM journals.
Teacher tip: Make sure you purchase candy hearts that are flat on both sides. My first trip to the store resulted in rounded sides on the hearts and they did not work!
For our second challenge, my students were given a pair of scissors and one sheet of colored copy paper. The challenge was to build the longest link chain using that one piece of paper.
It was so fun watching as students discovered that the skinnier they cut the paper, the longer their chain would be.
For our third challenge, I gave my students Valentine’s Day candies and toothpicks. First, they had to count out 30 candies and 30 toothpicks. This was excellent counting practice for my first graders! If you are completing this challenge in a classroom where students need help counting, you could place materials in zip-top bags before you begin the activity.
Using their materials, my students tried to construct the tallest tower they could. One of my favorite moments from the day was watching the lightbulb moment when one of my students realized that he had to deconstruct his tower and begin again because he used the heaviest candies on the top of his tower and the lightest candies on the bottom of his tower.
For our fourth challenge, I pre-cut small, medium, and large hearts on different colored Astrobrights papers using the template in my Valentine’s Day STEM Pack. My students had to place as many of these hearts as they could inside the heart on the large heart workmat without overlapping any hearts.
Teacher Tip: Use 3 different colors of paper to help students differentiate between the sizes of hearts on their workmat.
For our fifth challenge, my students used lego building blocks to build a heart. This heart was a very simple interpretation of a heart, but other students used up to 20 legos to construct their hearts.
For our sixth challenge, my students used craft sticks, a plastic spoon, and rubber bands to engineer a catapult. This catapult uses a lever simple machine to launch something. It was so much fun to watch them test out the number of craft sticks they needed to use in order to launch a Valentine candy into a tray.
For our seventh and final challenge, my students used a single piece of paper to construct a paper airplane. Then, they were able to launch their paper airplanes to try to score points on our Valentine point board.
After completing all seven challenges, I gave my students the writing reflection page of their choice from our Valentine STEM Pack. I loved reading about their favorite activities and the challenges that were easiest and most difficult for them. It was a day filled with memories for my littles! I can’t wait to plan another STEM afternoon in a few weeks!
I hope you were able to grab some fun ideas to do with your class or your kids at home. If you want to grab the printables resources shown in this post, you can click here to download my Valentine STEM Challenges from my TpT store.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my affiliate links, which helps to support The Primary Brain blog. As always, I only recommend products that I love and all ideas shared are my own.Written on February 14th, 2020 by Laurin Brainard