S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities are super problem-solving, cooperative learning, higher level thinking skill, single class projects. Generally a problem is posed that student groups must solve using a particular set of materials given some specifications and a few constraints.
I first heard of S.T.E.M. three years ago during a summer inservice. As a school one of our goals was to increase student learning in mathematics. S.T.E.M. activities were seen as a way to make math appear fun and necessary. Teachers were encouraged to incorporate at least one S.T.E.M. activity in their classroom that year. Since then I've collected many activities from across the internet and on Teachers Pay Teachers (both free and paid).
The most recent S.T.E.M. activity that I shared with my sixers is this one I found on TpT by Hello Learning.
Students must design an airplane that will fly at least two aliens to their tropical vacation destination. Working in engineering teams and a budget of just ten dollars, students must complete the task in under an hour. In addition they are encouraged to follow the engineering design method (similar to scientific method) by keeping a design journal.
Notice the intense concentration on my students' faces. I took these pictures on Friday afternoon at 2:10pm... dismissal is 2:15pm. I could not get them to stop! Now that's motivation. If you haven't tried a S.T.E.M. activity yet, be sure to check them out. There is one sure to fit your classroom and students.
My students do still have twenty more minutes of design/work time prior to the official take-off Monday morning. Stop back next week sometime to see the results of this science/engineering challenge. Be sure to stop by Head Over Heels for Teaching to see more motivating classroom ideas and Teachers Are Terrific to see what's happening in science classrooms around the blogging world.