Easy, Engaging Sporting Events in the STEM Lab!

Ready for some truth? About a year ago I was looking for ideas for Thanksgiving STEM projects to complete a STEM  by the Month series.

Everything I found was about turkeys and Pilgrims and the Mayflower. It also really looked like those topics were covered! I wanted something different. And, I really wanted some seasonal (Fall) STEM projects to be versatile enough to use at other times of the year. You are not likely to need turkeys in May...but if that is what you are looking for I will give you some links later.

Then something lovely happened. I noticed that the end of October is just jam-packed full of sporting events. What if we tried some Sports related challenges. What sports are going on in the Fall? Football, basketball, and soccer. BAM! A new seasonal packet was born! (And, yes, you can use these sporting events all year long!)


STEM Sports Challenges! Three events using football, basketball, and soccer. Such fun!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon passes tiny amounts on to me- if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep this little blog running!

Could we make a basketball goal?

Absolutely! 
STEM Sports Challenges! Three events using football, basketball, and soccer. Such fun!
This challenge has two parts- first build the basketball goal and then a tossing device to make the goal.

Let me just tell you how much the kids loved testing these devices. You could hear us cheering all over the place every time someone actually scored. There was definitely a learning curve to these gadgets!

STEM Sports Challenges! Three events using football, basketball, and soccer. Such fun!
There was also the little matter of using a piece of tulle for the net. The kids had so many inventive ways of adding the netting for their net. It was a little tricky!

 I learned that the really fine netting was very flimsy. So, I found some that was stiffer and it worked really well. Best of all it was on a roll and easily cut into smaller pieces for each group.

Speaking of tricky...

My first thought about the "ball" for our sporting events was to use ping pong balls for every sport. But, I decided to try to find small footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls. I found rubber balls for basketball and soccer but had trouble with a little football.

Then I went shopping at Amazon and found what I thought was the perfect bag of sports balls.

I ordered the bag below and then discovered I had calculated the math of that package incorrectly- just a little.

The product description at Amazon said the diameter of the balls was 2.5 inches and I thought that was great- but I was thinking about the circumference. And that makes a lot of difference.

You know what? The kids loved trying those large balls anyway. In the end, we did think the ping-pong balls were better!

Roll Tide! or War Eagle...

Or whatever cheer you need for your favorite team. Here in Alabama we really only have two choices. On to the football challenge!

STEM Sports Challenges! Three events using football, basketball, and soccer. Such fun!
For the football challenge, the groups also had two parts. They had to make the football goal post and a device to "kick" the football. We loved this one as much as the basketball goal.

STEM Sports Challenges! Three events using football, basketball, and soccer. Such fun!
Kids made so many variations of catapults to toss that football. Above, you can see a smaller furry football. That one actually came from the party section of a local store. It was a girl's headband that had two footballs on it!

Goalllllllllllllll!!!

The final sporting event was soccer. With the test class we found this one to be really simple, so of course I made the task rules tougher for other classes.
STEM Sports Challenges! Three events using football, basketball, and soccer. Such fun!
For the test class, the soccer ball kicker could be handheld. For later classes, the kicker had to be attached to the goal and could move only side to side. It made this task a lot tougher!

STEM Sports Challenges! Three events using football, basketball, and soccer. Such fun!
We loved sharing our finished goal and goal posts and soccer nets. It was just so fun to have every group share its device and then show us how they worked. Lots of cheering in the lab that week.

So, if you are ready to get away from traditional turkeys and Pilgrims for Thanksgiving- here's the perfect answer! These challenges were fabulous and so engaging!

The best news is the ease of materials for all three of these! A lot of craft sticks, straws, pipe cleaners, a little piece of netting, and a bag of ping pong balls will do it!

If you are still looking for seasonal Thanksgiving type projects check these links:



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