STEM Challenge Inspired by”Shop Class”


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We finally jumped on the DisneyPlus bandwagon about a month ago. After watching all my childhood favorites, I finally let the boys start watching some of the other shows. They started by watching every episode of “The Floor is Lava”, then stumbled upon a show that looked really interesting. “Shop Class” is a show where teams compete by designing and building certain items determined by the show’s judges. The best part is the make-up of the teams. The teams are made up of two kids, between ages of 10 and 14, and a shop teacher. After watching several episodes, the boys wanted to start building! Inspired by one of the episodes, I came up with a quick STEM challenge for them!

Find STEM inspiration everywhere! Inspired by a new show, the boys and I create a STEM Challenge for them to all design and build a ramp.

“Shop Class” Inspired STEM Challenge

Before I explain our STEM challenge, let me tell you a little more about “Shop Class”. The object of the show is for each team to design and build the same thing, and the team that wins is the ones’ whose design is both aesthetically appealing, and passes certain tests the design is put through. For example, one challenge was to design and build a “free little library”. The teams then had three days to design and build their free little library. We loved watching the kids work with their mentors brainstorm several designs, then seeing them work together to bring their design to life. After the three days was over, the free little library of each team was exposed to weather like conditions; first high winds (with a big fan), then rain (water pushed by the big fan), and sleet (ice pushed by the big fan). The same was followed for every episode: 3 day design and build followed by testing each design.

Watching the kids design and build inspired the boys to build something of their own, so I created this quick STEM challenge for them to do in an afternoon!

STEM Challenge

Objective

Build a ramp for Jackson Storm to drive over.

Materials

I looked for items they could use around the house. These are what I came up with:

  • paper bags
  • tape
  • pool noodle
  • markers
  • toilet paper rolls

STEM Activity

I set our kitchen timer for 30 minutes, and let the boys know they had 30 minutes to design and build their ramps!

Working on their ramps!

Once the timer went off, we had three very different designs and interpretation of the objective, and I loved it!

My youngest one was done first. Here was his design.

He’s four, and I was really impressed with his ramp! He used two toilet paper rolls to create elevation, then taped two paper bags on top of them.

My middle son was next to finish. Here is his creation:

He used the pool noodle to create his ramp. What a great idea! A pool noodle is more stable than toilet paper rolls, and are less likely to be squished by the weight of Jackson Storm when he drives over the ramp. He also drew the beginning and end of the track. Another great idea!

My oldest was last to finish. Here is his final design:

His design was not only of a ramp, but a game as well. He used two paper bags as the base, then cut two toilet paper rolls in half to create ramps/bridges. He then made obstacles for Jackson Storm to hit after crossing the ramp. Such a fun idea!

Testing the Designs

The next step was to test our designs!

Littlest brother first!

Then middle brother…

And finally, biggest brother!

We had so much fun with our first Shop Class inspired STEM challenge. I’m sure the show with inspire more to come! Have you seen shop class? I recommend you check out with your kids soon!

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