Best STEM Challenge Ever

April 30, 2017


 Best STEM Challenge Ever!

Do you teach animal adaptations and habitats? We have a great STEM challenge that is easily integrated into your science unit. Part of our "Is It In Your Nature?" Workshop created for the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, our "Engineering an Animal for a Habitat" requires students to use their imaginations and apply the required science concepts.



STEM and Animal Adaptations

 Improve Student Learning with a STEM Challenge

Adding STEM and engineering to your lessons is a fun way to improve student learning and assess a student's understanding of concepts that have been previously taught. Students love the hands-on lessons and as they create their models or prototypes, teachers know instantly who needs more instruction.

"STEM and Animal Adaptations" addresses several NGSS standards for life science and engineering.
  • Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants and animals and the places they live.
  • Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Why Students Love this STEM Challenge

First of all, students learn the required science concepts and vocabulary. Next, by examining a variety of animals and their traits and characteristics, they discover how animals’ adaptions help them survive in their environment. Finally, with a solid understanding of how animals survive in their habitats, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing. Therefore, we like to begin with some favorite books such as the fabulous What If You Had An Animal Nose? by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. This story is one of a wonderful series that combines humor and facts with hilarious pictures that captivate readers and inspire careful consideration of animal adaptations.  

What If You Had An Animal Nose?

Armed with scientific knowledge and filled with inspiration, your students are now ready to tackle the STEM challenge of creating a new and unique animal that will survive a particular habitat. Not only must they be able to justify how their animal’s adaptation will help it survive but their animal prototype must also have a moving part. As a result, this life science and mechanical engineering activity is perfect for a concept review or to assess your students’ comprehension. In addition, the engineering aspect keeps them engaged in a creative problem solving challenge.

Why Teachers Love This STEM Challenge

We continue to hear from teachers that they love to integrate engineering and STEM into many subjects. "STEM and Animal Adaptations" has been a favorite choice for many teachers this year.
  • “This was soooo much fun! My students loved creating the animals and it was a great addition to our study on adaptations!”
  • “If you teach animal adaptations, this activity is a must!”
  • “A great activity to use during my Biome-Go Unit!”
  • “Great source for inspiring higher level thinking!”
  • “I LOVE THIS! Using it for Animal Adaptation Assessment.”

STEM and Animal Adaptations

Ready for more lessons on this topic? We also have an activity packet on behavioral adaptations.  

STEM and Animal Behavioral Adaptations


We hope you and your students"Get Caught Engineering" this spring!

Wendy and Cheryl

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Need some more ideas?

Check out these other fantastic resources from our  favorite  STEM teachers!

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  Graphics and Font Credits: KG Fonts and PhotoClipz
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What They Say


Wendy came to Bellevue Arts Museum to co-lead our Full STEAM Ahead! Summer Camp in August 2014. This camp was a huge success thanks to her expertise, experience, and warmth working with the campers throughout the week…

Educational Outreach Director, The Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington