STEM Fun: Building A Home For Pecky the Puffin

I was thrilled when our science curriculum changed to include information about animals around the world and their habitats. Not only does this dovetail with our social studies curriculum perfectly (the seven continents), but it inspired me to write new STEM lessons to do with my students.

As an avid traveler, as many of you know, I have had the pleasure to see animals around the world in their natural habitats. I have amassed a rather large photo collection of these animals that I am anxious to share with students in a meaningful way. After much thought of how to best weave my experiences into the curriculum I decided, one way I could accomplish that would be to use my photos and videos as launching points for hands on STEM lessons!

First up, the Puffin STEM Challenge.


It was so much fun sharing information about Iceland, which I visited a few summers ago with my family. While I was there I took a puffin tour, so the connection to science couldn’t have been better. My family and myself braved some choppy seas, and more than chilly temperatures, to sail out into the Reykjavik harbor circling the islands that puffins call home and nest. It was amazing to see the little birds in action, flying, diving, and perching on the rocks of the islands in the harbor.

I coupled my own experiences with a few excellent YouTube videos of puffins in Iceland. There were close ups on their burrows, more information about their habitat, shots of puffins flying around the island and working to improve long, neglected burrows. It provoked great conversation among students about how puffins survive in the wild and how they would describe their home.

It was at this point, after discussing the type of habitat where puffins live, that I revealed to student that they would now have a chance to create their own puffin burrow as a STEM challenge. Making this challenge all the more personal, students would use a stuffed animal puffin we have in our classroom, named Pecky, to test their designs. To say there was some excitement over this STEM task would be an understatement.


The next day we traipsed down to the STEM lab and got right to business. Teams of students started by planning and recording what they hoped to create given the materials provided.


After planning it was off to the races. Students gathered materials and got right to work, building, creating, modifying and testing their designs. Each team of students were thoughtful in their design. They wanted their burrow to be a place where Pecky would feel safe, and comfortable.

What they created, as usual, blew me away. Without fail, my students always surprise me with their ingenuity to solve whatever problem has been posed to them. Here are some of their creations.

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Needless to say, Pecky was one happy puffin as he checked out each of the different designs. Students were pretty happy too with their designs. This STEM lesson was a great way to begin our discussions on habitats and the animals that live around the world.  I can’t wait to explore other habitats with students and complete new STEM challenges I have created for other animals.

What a wonderful experience in the STEM lab! If you think this sounds like something you would like to do with your own class you can grab a copy of this STEM lesson at my TpT store.



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