448050911201448 Lunar Lander Stem Challenge | Polka Dots and Protons - Interactive Science Notebooks & More

My goal is to make interactive science notebooks engaging for 5th grade and middle school science students while improving science test scores. NGSS expert, teacher, tpt author, mom, & widow

Lunar Lander Stem Challenge

I love the mystery created with brown bag STEM challenges. A brown paper lunch bag, filled and

then stapled shut is just intriguing. My Maker Studio elective class has students in grades 6, 7, & 8. Students got in to groups of 2 or 3 and filled out their engineering graphic organizer with the criteria and constraints of the challenge.

Criteria: Create a lunar lander for 2 astronauts (marshmallows.) The astronauts will stay in the cabin when dropped 2 feet.
Constraints: There will be no other items in or covering the cabin (cup.) Use only the items in the bag. 10 min. will be given to plan and 20 minutes to build, test, and improve.
Materials (per group): one paper lunch bag with the following materials in it.
  • 8 straws
  • 3 index cards (4×6)
  • 1 3oz cup
  • 3 rubber bands
  • 10 small marshmallows
  • 2 large marshmallows
“Astronauts” (large marshmallows)  are placed in their “cabin” (3oz cup) and are dropped from a pre-determined height.  Students use the other provided supplies to cushion the landing and keep the astronauts in the cabin on landing. (This as a version of an Egg Drop challenge.)
Students test their designs throughout the "create" part of the challenge and note the status of the astronauts.  

Click here for Lunar Lander Brown Bag Challenge from Starfish Education
Click here for Engineering & Design Plan Graphic Organizer

Click here for link to TPT Only $1.50

I love seeing the creativity and innovative ideas of my students. We have worked all year to understand that sometimes things don't work and as long as your learn from your mistakes you are making progress. I grade more on the Engineering & Design Plan than on the ability to win the challenge. Although the winning team does get bragging rights.

The designs were so good, we had to increase the height of the drop until we were touching the ceiling.

I had students lay their landers with their plans along the counter in the classroom. I really wanted the plan/labeled sketch to look like the finished project. If students changed their plan, they could cross out the sketch and draw a new one on the back. Changing the design is part of the process so I don't want students to erase sketches.