Halloween STEM Building Challenge

What You Need:

  • Styrofoam balls (24-36 count)
  • Orange tempera paint
  • Green tempera paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Black permanent marker
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors
  • Newspaper

What You Do: 

  1. Gather the tempera paint, paintbrush, and styrofoam balls. Next, spread the newspaper on a flat surface (e.g., table) where your child will paint. 

  2. Have your child paint each of the styrofoam balls with the orange tempera paint and give them time to dry.

  3. Help your child cut toothpicks into three sections using scissors. Paint the small toothpicks with green tempera paint. These will be the stems on the pumpkins!

  4. Once the styrofoam balls are dry, guide your child to decorate each as a jack-o'-lantern with a black permanent marker.

  5. When the green sticks have dried, help your child put them into the styrofoam balls as stems for the pumpkins.

  6. Tell your child that they will now participate in the building challenge by using toothpicks and the jack-o'-lanterns. Provide a goal for the building challenge, such as:

    • Build a spooky, tall tower, without letting it tip over.

    • Build a jack-o'-lantern robot with two legs and two arms.

    • Build a spaceship with a pointed tip and two wings.

    • Build a pumpkin house for a ghost to live in.

    • Build your own house.

  7. Engage your child in conversation about their plan. Allow them to share their ideas aloud and draw a plan on paper, if they choose.

  8. Give your child time to use the materials to meet the expectations of the building challenge. While your child is building, prompt them to talk about their decisions by asking questions, such as:

    • How do you keep the tower from falling over?

    • How many styrofoam balls do you need for this part?

    • What shape makes your structure strong?

    • What frustrations are you running into while you work?

    • How has your plan changed since you started?

Gather friends to participate as a team in this building challenge! Group STEM activities provide great opportunities for adaptation, communication, and teamwork.

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