03 December 2017
5 Winter Games STEM Challenges
     Are you ready for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics? If you are like me, then you probably super anxious to watch these sporting events take place. I hardly ever watch T.V., but I absolutely LOVE the Winter Olympics because: 
1. The games are so competitive and fun to watch.
2. The athletes are super inspirational. We all need a pick-me-up... especially after the holidays, right?

     I am very excited to be teaching my class about these winter sports this year. You see, we live near the beach, so we hardly ever get snow. This is a great cultural experience for us, and it is also a great way to sneak in some learning. We are going to particularly focus on learning about forces and motion. 

     I designed these 5 Winter Games STEM Challenges with your classroom in mind. Each STEM challenge comes with a 5E lesson plan, science experiments, reading comprehension passage, STEM challenge, and a response sheet. They have simple materials along with a materials checklist. It also includes pictures and teacher tips to help those of us who are a little more STEM challenged. :P

      Okay, so let's get down to business. Let me show you what these STEM Challenges are... 

1. Speed Skating: In this STEM challenge, students will learn about the center of gravity. They will do a simple experiment on a wall. Then, they will read about speed skaters and finding their center of gravity. Speed skaters use their center of gravity to stay balanced when turning quickly around the ice rink. Students will create a pipe cleaner speed skater and experiment by finding its center of gravity. All you need for this STEM challenge is 3 pipe cleaners and 1 hard life saver per student.

2. Bobsledding: This STEM challenge begins by asking the question, "Why do bobsledders stay low?" Students then conduct an experiment called "Don't be a Drag!" They simply take two sheets of paper, crumble one up, and drop them at the same time. Then they read about the science that goes into the sport of bobsledding. Drag slows the team down, so in order for them to have the quickest time, they try to do everything they can to keep from having drag.

Here's the best part... The kids will get to make their own bobsled with gummy bears! This is seriously the cutest. My kids had so much fun playing with these at home! I cannot wait to do this with my class.


They engineer a half pipe (mine looks kind of ugly here), and then they slide the bobsled with the bears laying down and standing up. It's really neat to see the bears lose their center of gravity when they are standing up. They usually topple over.

3. Alpine Skiing: For this STEM challenge, I used a cheap cookie pan from Walmart, 3 pipe cleaners, some tape, a hard life saver, a candy cane, and a box to elevate one end of the cookie pan. The kids will learn about unbalanced and balanced forces with a simple science experiment. Then they will read about how alpine skiers use these forces to make their sharp turns. Students will then design their alpine ski slope and race other students in the Ski Slope Challenge.
     The next two challenges are probably my most favorite. The fun won't last long though, but it's the perfect amount of time for those Fridays when we have finished early. 

4. Curling: In this STEM challenge, students will learn about friction. The curlers sweep ice pebbles to decrease friction and help the curling stone move towards the target. The students will conduct a simple friction experiment, then they will read about the sport of curling. Next students will play a game of curling with a frozen sheet of ice on a cookie pan (this was really easy to do). They will use a candy cane to launch a life saver gummy. You can use a  toothbrush or a straw to guide your life saver. The kids then tally up their points to see who wins. My kids played with this until it melted.

**To create a sheet of ice, I put the pan in the freezer first, then I poured the water into the pan. I recommend drawing the targets with permanent marker before pouring the water over it. That's something I will be sure to do next time. 



5. Hockey: This is a super fun game! Students will get a reading passage to read about the sport of hockey. Then, they get to play hockey with another student. They will tally up their points to see who wins. I prepped my pan the same way I did for curling, and again, I would recommend drawing in the goals. This is something I didn't think to do before I froze the water, but I will definitely be doing this next time.

**This is one of those games that can be differentiated for children of all ages. As you can see, this was a fun fine motor game for my three-year-old. Let's think of differentiating it this way: K-1 students can keep score by adding one for each goal. 2 - 3 students can keep score by adding two or five for each goal. 4 -5 can keep score by adding fractions or decimals for each goal.  
I'm telling you, this resource is one that your students will remember you by. It will not only teach them about winter sports, but it will also teach them science, technology, engineering, and math! They will not even realize they are doing all of those subjects! They will just think it's fun. I think that's my most favorite part about this whole resource.


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