STEM, Teachers

Create a Shape Robot STEM Challenge

I love doing STEM challenges with kids. They can be a low-prep, highly engaging activity to pull out when you have some extra time, you have a substitute or you find your students’ attention dwindling during certain times of year.

STEM challenges are great for summer break as well! Did you know that some studies estimate 70-80% of students experience some loss of their previous year’s learning during the summer months? Reading skills and math skills especially, tend to be forgotten and “lost” over the long break. There are plenty of things parents can do to beat summer learning loss. STEM challenges are one of my favorites. These keep your child thinking and engaged, but are so fun that they won’t even realize they are exercising their brain. Here’s one STEM challenge that will sure to excite your child and review shapes.

The challenge is to design their own robot and use at least 5 shapes in the process. For younger children (Kindergarten or First Grade) who only know 2D shapes, you can do this project using only paper and make the robots 2D. For older children, make the robot 3D and practice 3D shapes such as cones, cylinders and cubes. First, you’ll need to gather some supplies from around your house or pick them up at the store. Some of my favorites include cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic bottles and foil. You’ll also need tape and scissors.

Next, have your child/students do some exploring and look at examples of real-life robots. Robots now days look a variety of ways, not just the typical square robot. Search online or check out you tube for some robot examples.

Next, have your child make a plan. This is a really important step not only because it gets them thinking more deeply, but because it helps them not to end up wasting supplies! I can’t tell you how many times I let students just dive right into a STEM project in my early years only to have them end up with nothing an hour later except for a bunch of wasted supplies. I like to give students a little template like the one below to help them plan out their designs.

Once they have a solid plan and have figured out what supplies they are going to use, now they are ready to build! Check out these amazing designs some students made.

I have put together step-by-step instructions and all the templates and resources you’ll need for this activity in my STEM Challenge: Shape Robot packet. It even has a grading rubric and reflection sheet you can use if you’re doing this with your students.

Enjoy! Let me know how your robots turn out!