03 December 2017
5 Winter Games STEM Challenges
  Are you ready for winter sports? If you are like me, then you're super excited! I hardly ever watch T.V., but I LOVE the winter sports because:

1. The games are competitive and fun to watch.

2. The athletes are super inspirational. We all need a pick-me-up... especially after the holidays, right?

     I'm very excited to be teaching my class about 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's also a great way to sneak in some learning. We're 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 includes... 5E lesson plan, experiments, reading, 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'll do a simple experiment on a wall. Then, they'll read about speed skaters and finding their center of gravity. Speed skaters use their center of gravity to stay balanced when making turns on the rink. Students experiment with center of gravity by creating pipe cleaner speed skaters. All you need for this STEM challenge is 3 pipe cleaners and 1 hard life saver per student.

2. Bobsledding: "Why do bobsledders stay low?" Students conduct an experiment called "Don't be a Drag!" They 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. 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 the cutest. My class had so much fun doing this. We recognized the champs with extra gummy bears!

They engineer a half pipe, and slide the bobsled with the bears laying down and standing up. It's neat to see the bears lose their center of gravity when they're standing up. They usually topple over.

3. Alpine Skiing: For this STEM challenge, students learn about unbalanced and balanced forces. Then they'll read about how alpine skiers use these forces to make their sharp turns. I used... a cheap cookie pan, 3 pipe cleaners, some tape, a hard life saver, a candy cane, and a box to elevate one end of the cookie pan. Students design their ski slope and race other students in the Ski Slope Challenge.
The next two challenges are 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. Curlers sweep ice pebbles to decrease friction and help the curling stone move to the target. The students conduct a simple friction experiment. Then they read about the sport of curling. Students will play a game of curling with a frozen sheet of ice on a cookie pan (this was 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.

Since we couldn't add pebbles to the ice, we tried salt. Salt melts the ice, so that did not work. Obvi... Instead, we tried adding little grains of sand. This helped a lot! It made this simulation more realistic.

**To create a sheet of ice, I put the pan in the freezer first, then I poured the water into the pan. Draw the targets with permanent marker before pouring the water over it.

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'll tally up their points to see who wins. I prepped my pan the same way I did for curling, and again, I'd recommend drawing in the goals. This is something I didn't think to do before I froze the water, but I'll definitely be doing this next time.

**This is one of those games 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'll not only teach them about winter sports, but it will also teach them about the science. They won't even realize they're doing STEM! They'll think it's fun. That's my most favorite part about this whole resource.

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