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Sep 3, 2017

Rock Cycle STEM Challenges!

Rock Cycle STEM weathering and erosion

Hey Teacher Friends,

Right now I'm in the process of creating a series of STEM projects for students who are studying Earth Science.. The current unit I'm focusing on is the Rock Cycle! After doing a little research, I came up with two great STEM projects that are simple enough to create in the classroom. Initially I originally thought these projects might be too simple for 4th-6th grade, but they are much more difficult to pull off than they appear!

I first discuss with students the three different types of rock (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic) and how they are formed. Igneous is formed by the heating and cooling of lava. Sedimentary is formed by the deposition of material at the earth's surface and within bodies of water. Metamorphic rocks were once igneous or sedimentary rocks and have changed from high temperatures or pressure. I then have students brainstorm if it is possible to demonstrate each of the rock cycle phases by using crayons!

Without giving them the answers, I question how could they change the state of the crayons to represent the different formations,... This is where the fun begins with STEM challenges!  

STEM Activity #1: Rock Cycle Challenge with Crayons! 

Rock Cycle STEM weathering and erosion

Here's the Challenge: Using a list of supplies, students must demonstrate the rock cycle and the different rock formations that occur during the process. All three types of rock must be present in the cycle. Students must collect a small sample of rock during each phase and it must be labeled which type it is. STEM groups have three trials to complete this challenge.. They must complete the challenge in 75 minutes. ***See end of post for more information on supplies!

STEM Activity #2: Erosion and Weathering with Rock Cliffs! 

Students must demonstrate how weathering and erosion affects our landscape. They must build four rock cliffs using sugar cubes and decide on different weathering and erosion strategies for each rock cliff (one strategy per rock cliff).  A strategy  can be a combination of wind and rain effects or another way to break down the rocks. They must describe and label each strategy they came up with. (Ex: 10 drops of water and 5 seconds of shaking in plastic container – rain and wind)  The goal is to find a wide variety of results from different weathering and erosion strategies.  They have one hour to complete this challenge. 

Aug 31, 2017

Ecosystems STEM Challenge!

Ecosystems food web stem challenges

Hey Teacher Friends,

Right now I'm in the process of creating a series of STEM projects for students who are studying Earth Science.. The current unit I'm focusing on is all about ecosystems and food webs! 
This project is SO much fun! A STEM group (4-5 students) must first decide on which type of ecosystem they are going to research for their challenge. 
Before I begin the challenge with students, I make sure they know all about how energy travels up the web. A food web is a system of interlocking food chains within an ecosystem or community. Energy first comes from the sun. Plants use that energy from the sun and produce energy for primary consumers. The primary consumers provide energy for the secondary consumers and so forth. After students have basic knowledge of how food webs work, they are ready to choose an ecosystem and get to work! 

STEM Activity: Food Web Marble Maze

Here's the Challenge: 
The group must first choose a biome or type of ecosystem. (ex: Tundra, Grassland, Forest) Using a list of materials, students must create a marble run that features different levels of the food web. They must include a producer, a primary consumer, secondary consumer, and a tertiary consumer. There can be more than one of each type of consumer, but there must be at least one of every level. The marble maze must direct the ball going up the various interlocking paths along the food web. Animals and consumer types must be labeled in their design. Drawings, computer clipart, or figurines can be used. Students have three days to complete this project!

Would you like the printable guides and listed materials for these Ecosystems - Food Web Marble Maze STEM Challenges? Click here!  


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