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!
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.
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?
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!
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:
- Toothpicks (I like giving each group of students one of these small toothpick containers of 250, so that each group has the same amount)
- Tape measure
- Pencils and paper for each group
- Plastic baggies to store apples
- Sprite (to keep the apples from browning as quickly)
- STEM Journal for each group to jot down design ideas and record what went right or wrong with their design
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!).
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
- Adorable Apple Math Printable Number Matching Game
- Apple STEM Lesson Plan Bundle
- Homemade Salt Crystals- How to Make Salt Crystal Apples
- 3D Apple Maze Activity
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 Tower STEM Challenge Lesson Plan
Here is how you can turn this simple apple building challenge into a full STEM lesson plan!
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.
Let me know, what are your favorite STEM activities to do when school starts?