STEM building challenges are a great way to incorporate STEM skills into the classroom. Use them to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math in a lesson for the entire class, or use them as early finisher tasks. STEM building challenges are perfect extensions for students who finish work early.

STEM Building Challenges

Hi! I’m Trisha from Inspiration Laboratories. Today I’m sharing with you some easy ways to incorporate STEM into the classroom. (The ideas are also great for at home.) These building challenges are adaptable to a variety of ages. You can use them in preschool through elementary. Preschoolers will most likely need some direction and assistance to get the most out the activities. Elementary students will enjoy these challenges working alone or in groups. Make their tasks more specific and watch their problem solving skills shine.

Build with Newspaper

– Life Over C's
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All you need for this activity is newspaper (or even magazines) and tape. Roll the paper and tape it together. Roll the paper diagonally to get longer building pieces. Roll the paper from the shortest side to get a stronger building piece.

What will your students design? Can you build a pyramid? What about a skyscraper? Can you build a tunnel or an archway? Who can build the tallest tower?

Issue a specific challenge or simply let your students be creative. How much weight can their newspaper structures hold?

Check out these examples of newspaper structure challenges:

Build a Bridge

– Life Over C's

You can set out materials or you can let your students brainstorm a list of options. This challenge can be as open ended as you like or you can make the challenge specific. For example, challenge your students to build a bridge from craft sticks that can hold ___ amount of weight (or choose an object that you want the bridge to carry). Let them use glue or tape to assemble the bridge.

Check out these bridge building ideas:

Build a Maze

– Life Over C's

Designing a maze is a versatile activity. The possibilities for materials are endless. Raid the recycling bin or try materials that can be reused. Here’s a list of suggestions:

  • LEGO (regular or DUPLO)
  • blocks
  • craft sticks
  • cardboard boxes
  • cardboard tubes
  • straws
  • paper
  • cups
  • books

The size of your materials will determine the size of your maze. What will be navigating the maze? A ball? A car? A robot? A person? This will also help determine the size of your maze.

Here are some example mazes (click on the links to see the details):

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– Life Over C's STEM Building Challenges for Kids

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Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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