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.
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…” series written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. The stories combine humor and facts with hilarious pictures that captivate readers and inspire careful consideration of animal adaptations.
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.”
We hope you and your students”Get Caught Engineering” this spring!
Wendy and Cheryl
Need some more ideas?
Check out these other fantastic resources from our favorite STEM teachers!
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