12 Back to School Quick and Easy STEM Challenges

STEM Quick Challenges 

STEM Quick Challenges are great ways to get your students engaged in learning and also a way to introduce a new topic or concept. These challenges can also be thought of as a “hook” for a lesson, getting students mentally ready to learn. It can also build wonder in your students! 


Why use Quick STEM Challenges? To some, these challenges may seem too easy! But they have an important place in classrooms.  You can’t just start with activities that are hours long and expect your students to be successful.  They must learn the basic skills of team work, collaboration, and how to think flexible.  These activities provide that and much more!


One Quick STEM Challenge that is easy to implement, and my students always enjoy it is my STEM Raft Challenge. (FREEBIE) Only four materials: tape, straws, string, and pennies.  It connects great with buoyancy, sink or float, density, or measurement.  Students can reflect on their thinking as they design and engineer their rafts. To test the rafts, use a plastic tub with water to see how many pennies your raft can hold!


Quick STEM Challenges can be independent or in a group.  I usually have students work in pairs or teams because I love my students collaborating and learning to work with others.  These activities motivate your students and gets them excited about learning.

  • Other Quick Challenges: STEM Jumping Frog This can be used to tie into different types of  measurement (linear or angles)  or with life cycles in science.
  • Materials: Origami paper
  • Directions: Students follow the video directions to make a jumping frog. Students then test their frog’s jumping ability. Data Recording pages are included in this resource.  




STEM School Box Challenges are all Quick STEM Challenges! These are fun to use and easy to make!  Simple materials (great for distance learning also)

Quick STEM Activities Included:

Index Card Tower

House of Cards

Pipe Cleaner Bridge

Popsicle Stick Catapult

Army Parachute

Fidget Spinners

Building Squares Structures

Dominoes Diving Board

Packing Peanuts Structures

Triangle Structures

Button Designs

Button Towers


Adding STEM Quick Challenges to your classroom, will make your students excited about learning and they will have fun too!! Students will problem solve and think critically as they learn to collaborate with their peers. These are all important 21st century skills that our students must have to be successful!

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