STEM Challenge: Landmarks From Around the World

It was another busy week as we wind down to the end of the school year. One of my favorite activities this week was a global STEM Challenge. I mean come on, what’s not to love combining travel with STEM?

I found a couple great resources to do this activity. First I bought STEM building cards on TpT from one of my favorite sellers, Brooke Brown of Teach Outside the Box. It was a bundle set, so we will have other STEM goodies to use, but for Friday’s lesson the landmarks were our focus. After looking around on TpT more (seriously, I could spend hours on there!) and talking to a second grade teammate, I found more STEM landmark cards with a recording page. What really sold me on buying a second resource was the recording sheet. These STEM cards are by Playdough to Plato who I am now also following on TpT. Together these two products fit almost all my needs.

The STEM challenge was for students to build a landmark from the country they did research on for a country report. The task cards didn’t include landmarks from all the countries my students covered so I made a few of my own. While I could have just handed out landmarks to students for the continent their country is located on, I felt the activity would have a greater impact if they had the chance to make a landmark from their own specific country.

With landmark cards ready to pass out, I gave directions so students would know what to do. I started by displaying all of the STEM bins students could use to create their landmarks on the rug. I wanted to give them options for materials, and let them know they could mix and match materials. Usually they only use one bin at a time, but for this activity I thought it would be fun to give more flexibility.

We talked about the planning sheet, and the process students would take to complete the task. I let students know at the end of our time we would take a landmark walk around the room to see what students had built.

Then my aide had a brilliant idea. She suggested students keep their landmark a secret, build it, and then on our walk, we would try and figure out which landmark each student had created. Brilliant!

Students were pumped to get started and LOVED the idea of secretly making their landmark. Many students created little cubicles to work on the rug.

After completing their planning page and checking in with a teacher, it was time for building. Students spent about 30 minutes building their landmarks. I was so impressed with how they shared materials and worked hard the entire time.

Our walk around the room at the end of 30 minutes to guess what each student built was a lot of fun. We were able to guess many of the landmarks and it was so interesting to see which of the STEM materials students chose to use to create them.

This is definitely a STEM lesson I will use again in the future. Next year, I will probably pair this activity with more in depth research of the landmark students build. We might start with researching first, then build the landmarks. I think some research on the structures might give them more ideas for building their own versions. All I know is we had a great afternoon in second grade building landmarks!



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