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Apple Tower STEM Challenge Lesson Plan for Elementary

One of my favorite things to do in the STEM classroom is to use common everyday items in new ways to create fun STEM challenges for students. During the back to school season, I like to work with materials that are fall-themed, like apples. In this apple tower STEM challenge students will compete to see who can create the tallest and sturdiest tower using only apple pieces and toothpicks! This is one of our favorite apple STEM activities!

Easy engineering activity for elementary kids! The apple tower STEM challenge teaches kids the basics of engineering and design!

If you want to challenge your students to start thinking with design and engineering in mind, starting early is a great idea! Apples are a fun addition to a traditional building challenge that make it fun for back to school.

Keep reading to grab the apple tower STEM challenge lesson plan and learn what you need to set up your own engineering challenge in the classroom!

Apple Tower STEM Challenge Lesson Plan

This creative apple STEM challenge is the perfect simple STEM challenge to get children thinking like engineers.

apple life cycle worksheet

First, set up the conditions for the apple STEM challenge. Tell the students that they will divide into groups of 4-5 students and compete to see which group can create the tallest apple tower using the given supplies.

Make sure to discuss the basics of engineering and what makes a good design.

What elements are needed to keep a tall structure from falling?

apple engineering tower challenge

What are some of the techniques that structural engineers use to keep tall buildings standing, even in heavy winds?

I love open-ended STEM challenges like these because it not only helps kids discover design solutions, but it also sets the tone for creative, yet logically thought out thinking from the first few days of school.

Here are some apple books you might want to read before doing this lesson.

Apple Books for Kids

Here are some colorful books children will enjoy reading to learn more about apples!

apple life book

An Apple’s Life Book

apple trees book

Apple Trees Book

apples for everyone book

Apples for Everyone Book

apples book

Apples Book

blossom to apple book

Blossom to Apple Book

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Let’s Go to the Apple Orchard Book

What Do You Need to Do the Apple Tower STEM Challenge?

You will need 2 apples for each group of students, which you can purchase from a local grocery store.

You will also need:

Apple-Themed Teaching Resources

Apples and teaching go hand-in-hand!

Add these fun apple-themed teaching supplies to your classroom (or your house, if you just love apples that much!).

apple timer

Apple Teacher Timer

apple pencil erasers

Apple Pencil Sharpeners

apple scented teacher stickers

Apple Scented Stickers

apple progress pad

Apple Progress Pad

apple silly stickers

Silly Apple Teacher Stickers

attribute apples

Attribute Apples

apple fractions

Apple Fractions

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Count and Sort Apples

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Apple Math Tree

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Felt Board Parts of an Apple

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Squishy Apples

If you need more ideas for back to school STEM challenges, check out the FREE list of challenges by clicking the image below! And check out these other no prep STEM challenges, too!

back to school stem challenges

Additional STEM Challenges for This Lesson

There are a lot of things you can test using apples and toothpicks.

For example, you can test the stability of each design by putting it on a paper plate and shaking gently to represent an earthquake.

Apple tower STEM challenge lesson plan! Learn how to teach the basics of engineering in a fun way in this easy STEM engineering challenge.

Use a box fan to blow air at the towers and see if they get damaged to represent severe weather.

Ask your students for additional ideas on what other tests they could conduct on their apple towers.

When setting up a STEM challenge give children a specific direction or handicap, but let them use their creativity to build their towers however they think best.

Apple-Themed Decorations

Here are some fun apple-themed decorations you can use to decorate your classroom or home when playing apple games or just for some fall flair!

apple treat containers

Apple Treat Containers

apple tissue decoration

Tissue Paper Apples

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Apple Mini Erasers

apple balloon

Happy Apple Balloon

apple party classroom kit

Apple Party Kit

This will help the children retain the information they learned during the discussion portion of the lesson.

More Apple STEM Activities

The apple tower STEM challenge is a lot of fun, but there are many other fun STEM activities that you can do with apples that are just as fun!

Try some of these simple STEM and science experiments during the first few weeks of school.

Apple-Themed Shirts and Accessories

If you love to celebrate a theme as much as I do, you’ll love these apple-themed shirts and accessories!

apple teacher shirt

Mini Apple Customizable Teacher Shirt

barbie apple shirt

Barbie Style Apple Teacher Shirt

classy apple earrings

Metal Apple Earrings

teachers change the world water cup

Customizable Apple Teacher Tumbler

flower apple tote

Flower Apple Tote Bag

apple heart shirt

Apple Heart Shirt

big apple earrings

Transparent Apple Earrings

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Apple Word Cloud Tote for Teachers

Apple Tower STEM Challenge Lesson Plan

Here is how you can turn this simple apple building challenge into a full STEM lesson plan!

apple life cycle worksheet

Get the simple directions for how to teach this apple tower STEM challenge to a group of elementary students.

You can even print these directions and keep them on hand for when you do the actual experiment.

How to Teach the Apple Tower STEM Challenge

How to Teach the Apple Tower STEM Challenge

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Difficulty: easy

Using apples is a fun way to turn engineering on its head! In this apple tower STEM challenge students will learn how to construct towers using toothpicks and apple pieces and even whole apples!


  • Apples (2 per group)
  • Toothpicks (1 box per group)
  • Plastic baggies (1 per group)
  • Paper and pencils for each group


  • Measuring Tape
  • Knife


  1. Before bringing the apples to the classroom, cut the apples into 1-inch cubes. You can drop the apples into Sprite before placing into plastic baggies to keep them from browning as fast. Give each student group about two apples worth of pieces.A530C5CC 5C72 4E37 98A1 0FCDDF75FA5D scaled
  2. Make sure every bag has the same number of apple pieces.
  3. Challenge the students to think about different types of designs and structures that they have seen.
  4. Explain that each group will use engineering skills to try to build the tallest tower with the apple pieces that they have.
  5. Give a bag of apples and a box of toothpicks to each group in the classroom.
  6. Set a timer for 10 minutes and allow the kids to brainstorm construction ideas. apple engineering tower challenge
  7. Set a 20 minute timer to allow the students time to build their structures.
  8. Use a measuring tape to see which group had the tallest tower. 6453ADFD 9AA4 4C87 BB20 768B1EF82F1F scaled
  9. Discuss the strengthens and weaknesses of each design. Just because a tower was the tallest, did that also make it the strongest?

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