The Best Ever - A Highly Engaging STEM Challenge

So, I started a new STEM adventure and I really had no idea how my students might react. After each class completed this little task I asked for some feedback - which is kind of a dangerous thing to do with fifth graders. Nevertheless, I asked and here is what I got, 
“After three years of STEM this is the favorite thing I have ever done. I loved every part of this. I loved solving the puzzles and finding things. It made me use by brain.”
Seriously. 

I think I have a winner with this new idea.

STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Space Shuttle Missions information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!
These adventures are called many things: Lock Out, Escape Room, Break Out, and more. I decided we would call them STEM QUESTS!

So, what do you need to get started?

Well, you need some boxes and some locks. I found locks at a hardware store, but stores like Wal Mart have them, too. I even found some locks with keys at Dollar Tree.

For the boxes, I found plastic tool boxes at Dollar Tree. I also experimented with a hole punch and my locks and discovered you can use a packing box (like from Amazon), punch holes in the flaps, and your lock will thread through and it works!

I tried to think of everything because I want you to try this without having to spend a lot of money. More about this later.
STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Space Shuttle Missions information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!
Above you can see my first Quest boxes. They are labeled and ready to go.

How does this work?

The students had three tasks. The first was to take a look at a data table about space shuttle missions. They had some specific items from the data table to find and place in chronological order.
STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Space Shuttle Missions information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!

The photo above shows the data table and strips they sorted. If they sorted those correctly a word would be spelled- which just happened to be someone's name. Check them out below sorting the strips. This required some diligence in finding the right dates and events.

STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Space Shuttle Missions information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!

The name on the correctly ordered events was the first teacher in space. Take a look at the drawing below.

We have a volunteer grandmother that works at our school and she drew those scientists in pencil and donated the drawings to our lab. Aren't they amazing? Anyway, attached to Christa's drawing were lines that led to space shuttle images and if they kids pursued this they found a clue on the back of the space shuttle that helped them determine the combination of the first lock.

Here's why I always test everything before I write about it or add it to TpT!

My original thinking was that students would retrieve their next task papers out of trays on my desk. So, when they opened Box 1 a card inside it told them to get the next paper from my desk. Silly kids! They were picking up everything on my desk and searching - when it was right in those brightly colored baskets.
I remedied that by placing the tasks right beside the locked boxes!

The second task involved a math paper and a riddle. The answer to the riddle led them to a planets display and the clue to open the box.


How does this end?

The last task was to complete a map showing things the astronauts might have seen from space. If this was completed correctly the paper revealed a KEY. I hid the key on maps around the room-- get it- it was a MAP KEY! Nothing like a great pun!

STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Space Shuttle Missions information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!
When they opened the last box they received a certificate. I did think about it later and thought I should have purchased some Moon Pies to award them as they finished.

Overall, the kids LOVED THIS! I invented a second version of this that uses landforms as the basis of the Quest. I included a peek at it below. Both sets are available in my store right now!
STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Landform information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!


I know you have questions and here are the ones I can answer quickly:
  1. How long will it take to set up the Quest? It took about an hour total- to make copies, laminate, and cut out the display pieces and student papers, and to set up the room. BUT, keep in mind, that the second time you use one of the Quests will be easier- because you will already have the labels and pieces ready to go!
  2. Can you do this without buying locks? YES! I have directions in the resources of ways to use cardboard boxes and I provide "paper lock strips" that you can use instead of a real lock. Kids just code the paper strip and you check it. If they code the right numbers the box is "unlocked".
  3. How much class time will this take? We have been able to complete the Quest in a 45-minute class session! I have tested the Quests with 4th and 5th grade! I have not tried third grade yet, but I will - later in the school year!
  4. What happens when a team is finished? What do they do? The Space Shuttle Quest has a STEM idea included that your kids could try- no directions for this, just the idea. The Landform Quest has a puzzle sheet that is a Doodle Map and directions for using it. I included the puzzle pieces in my locked boxes! You can also have your first finishers become experts to help struggling teams.
Based on the feedback I have gotten from kids about our Quests you should try this! The two we have tackled thus far are below!

STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Space Shuttle information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!

STEM Quest - Kids solve puzzles and follow clues using Landform information. Clues to lead to lock codes and they unlock the box to reveal the next task!


2 comments

  1. Do you have plans to make any STEM quests for younger students? I teach second grade and would like to try something like them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Some simpler quests will happen! It is taking me about two weeks to create and test these. Just keep an eye out for a newsletter or some photos on my Instagram. Thank you so much for your interest!

      Delete

Back to Top