Winter STEM Challenges

November 21, 2021


Winter is Coming!  Let’s Chill Out with STEM!

Frosty engineering opportunities will be here soon.

When adults think of winter, they visualize the future workload of shoveling snow in sidewalks, digging out cars, scrapping windshields, and lots of gray wet days.Kids on the other hand have completely different visions. Winter STEM activities are perfect for their mindset.

As the snow levels increase, kids see the possibility for building and constructing everything from snowball fight walls to sled runs. Children immediately become structural engineers and problem solvers as they build snow forts and snowmen. Some kids turn to systems engineering as they create an assembly line to rapidly make and stockpile snowballs. During snow days kids are literally knee deep in STEM opportunities and challenges. As wonderful as this winter wonderland is, eventually schools reopen and students head back. This usually means indoor recess for days upon days. Typical indoor recess can quickly lose its charm. UNLESS we turn the recess period into winter STEM activity opportunities!


Indoor Recess Ideas with Winter Stem Activities

One of the easiest ways to accomplish this it to pull out a variety of building blocks. KEVA Planks, Lincoln Logs, K'NEX and ZOOBS are a great way for the students to put on their engineering caps and create amazing structures. And they never seem to tire of the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild. Another idea is to bring out the dominoes that are usually in the math center. Set up a challenge to see who can build the biggest or most intricate domino rally. No blocks? No problem! Just search your cupboards for anything that might work for building structures. Straws, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, index cards, rulers, or pencils all provide interesting challenges for stacking and constructing.


Try some of our Engineering Energizers for some low-prep ideas. Our Squish and Stick Towers (that uses only small marshmallows and pasta) is popular with all ages.


Open a Maker Space with More Winter STEM Activities

Been thinking about opening a Maker Space in your classroom? Now is the perfect time to introduce this as it can be an exciting new outlet for your students’ creativity. You can start small with a few materials that you have around your classrooms. String, popsicle sticks, tape, glue, toothpicks, foil, and pipe cleaners lend themselves to exploration and creation. Duct tape is always a hit at our lab and is a great addition for creating everything from bracelets to wallets to fancy decorated whatchamacallits. Don’t forget to send out a donation request to parents to add to your equipment and materials. Need some ideas to get students thinking?


We use Maker Space Task Cards that add some focused thinking to our center.

We also have a student STEM and Maker Space Notebook for collected ideas.

Check out our other ideas and resources for maker spaces .


Kids Itching to be Outside, But the Playground is Off-Limits? Add Winter STEM Activities 

Try some winter themed engineering activities that celebrate the weather but keep the kids warm and toasty inside.

Challenge your kids to Save Frosty and design a container that keeps an ice cube frozen for the longest time.

An indoor snowball fight using catapults and marshmallows or cotton balls will be lots of fun and will provide a great review of simple machines. Snowball Frenzy is a great addition to recess.

Launch into system engineering with a Snowman Factory and build team collaboration.

 Playground closed ? Have them design a new playground that works in the winter

Do they  know all about Snowflake Bentley? Read the Caldecott winning book and then do a daily activity during recess that connect to the book. STEM and Stories provides great STEM integration. All our activity packets include a teacher guide with helpful notes, student handouts, a rubric, inquiry questions and an engineering design process poster.


Don't let inclement winter weather turn your day all topsey-turvey!

Although Indoor recess in the winter can add stress to your day, we have you covered. Indoor recess during the winter months can be more than one more game of Simon Says or Heads Up: Seven Up.

Be ready with some fun STEM ideas and “Chill Out with STEM” this winter.

We hope you “Get Caught Engineering” this winter!

Wendy and Cheryl

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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