20 Ways Teachers Are Getting Excited About STEM

Creative lesson plans!

Some of the best STEM-spiration for your classroom comes from fellow teachers. Read on for 20 ways applicants in the CITGO Fueling Education Sweepstakes are making science, technology, engineering and math exciting and interesting for their students.

1. Design Challenges

“My students absolutely love building and manipulating. Their favorite thing? Design challenges. Teams of students work together for four consecutive Mondays to solve a specific task through design, planning, building and collaboration.” —Alyssa G., Florida

2. 3-D Manipulatives

“The children in my class love to use manipulatives. During our 3-D shapes unit, we used marshmallows and toothpicks to create our own 3-D shapes.” —Leslie P., New York

3. Build It Better

“Students are given a real-world problem to solve using an array of materials. Then we test their products to see which student’s works best. One winning project assignment was asking the students to build a better thermos.” —Suzie A., Florida

4. Egg Drop Challenge

“My fifth graders love doing the egg drop challenge! They have to design and test a way to drop an egg in the classroom and then out the second-floor window. It’s always fun to see their designs.” —Melissa R., Ohio


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Photo: Kandis T., Ohio

5. Bungee Barbie

“My students design a bungee jump for Barbie dolls when we study linear functions.” —Lerrie C., Louisiana

6. Edible Animal Cells

“An activity my students enjoy is creating edible animal cells. I give my students a variety of food items—raisins, M&M’s, Jell-O, yogurt—and they become engaged while learning.” —Shirley J., Louisiana

7. Build a Better Boat

“My first graders tackled the challenge of designing a boat made of foil to hold as many ‘pirates’ (pennies) as possible. It was exciting to see them collaboratively brainstorm solutions, create plans, test their ideas and make modifications to improve their designs.” —Susan S., Indiana

8. Earthquake Engineering

“Our students practice the engineering-design process through a variety of hands-on design challenges and problem-based scenarios, such as building emergency shelters to better consider plate tectonics.” —Laurie E., Georgia

9. Hurricane Habitus

“My fifth graders had to build a hurricane tower that would hold up a ball for one minute through hurricane winds (fan) and rain (spray bottle). The challenge was fun, exciting and full of engineering as they learned the importance of structural support and how hurricanes affect us!” —Laura T., Alabama

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Photo: Sean M., Connecticut

10. Future Engineers

“I started an after-school engineering program with my students to not only allow them to learn while doing, but also to show them the possibilities after high school in the engineering industry.” —Patricia S., Louisiana

11. Roller Coaster Design

“My students create roller coasters for marbles. They use rolls from bathroom tissue to create ramps, jumps and curves and make their marbles land in a certain place.” —Sarah Jean L., West Virginia

12. LEGO Robotics

“I teach robotics to third and fourth graders. They are able to apply the software to program an assortment of LEGO robots they create.” —Kathie P., Illinois

13. Mini Makers

“I have created a ‘maker center’ in the classroom and I allow my students time to visit it to solve problems. A couple of popular projects: How can I make a paper frog get from one side of the room to the other? How can I make a dogsled out of craft supplies?” —Jodie L., Tennessee

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Photo: Joanie N.

14. Bird Observe

“Students build bird feeders and feed birds for two months in winter. The students observe their feeds and journal daily.” —Kate H., Ohio

15. Soda Rockets

“I do a two-liter soda bottle STEM activity with my students to teach them about rockets. We discover and learn about fin design, nose cone design, force and motion, acceleration and speed, plus a whole lot more.” —Jonathan F., Florida

16. Math in Color

“I like inspiring students to be creative in math class. I have students create an interactive coloring sheet that contains math problems for their peers.” —Misty M., West Virginia

17. Grasp Growing

“Many of my students have never grown plants, so I partnered with our math consultant to combine math and science and designed a life science unit with the focus on growing peas.” —Tammy G., Michigan

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Photo: Tammy G, Michigan

18. Moon Movement

“We studied the phases of the moon and marked shadow movement throughout the day.” —Karen D., Florida

19. Solar Ovens

“To demonstrate how heat and light work, we used pizza boxes as solar ovens to melt crayons and marshmallows. The students had to figure out how the light would travel and reflect to get inside the box.” —Bryanna H., Florida

20. Veggie Time

“The students were learning about different ways to power objects so we used vegetables to power a clock. The vegetables work as galvanic cells, releasing electrical energy through chemical reactions.” —Michelle L., Maryland

Feeling inspired? Then head right over to enter the CITGO Fueling Education Sweepstakes. You could win $5,000 for your classroom as well as other amazing prizes like a trip to Colorado to see TV STEM Expert Steve Spangler in person.  Just for entering, you’ll get a free STEM toolkit for your K-8 classroom. It contains classroom posters, Imagination Lab experiments and much more.