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The Best STEM Challenge EVER


The Best STEM Challenge for Grades 3-8


Improve student Learning with a STEM Challenge

STEM goes digital with these fun and engaging design challenges.
We all want our students to master technology tools and use them to create original works. Digital STEM challenges are designed to allow students to explore digital tools while creating something using the steps of the engineering design process. The best part is that nearly every topic and subject area can be incorporated into these challenges, so they can be used as a part of your daily academic activities, not as an extra thing to fit into your schedule. 

There are 10 technology tools used in this resource. If you’re a traditional STEM teacher, think of each tech tool as a “material” for building such as Popsicle sticks or construction paper.
Each tool has a page in this PDF that describes it for the teacher. I encourage my students to explore the tech tool as they complete the challenges, so I do not do any formal instruction about how to use the tool. This leads to each activity being even more open ended and requires problem solving and higher order thinking skills. It makes my teacher heart warm and fuzzy!
STEM goes digital with these fun and engaging design challenges. 10 websites and 90 challenges perfect for grades 3 and up. If you are in a paperless classroom or 1:1 with laptops or Chromebooks then these are ideal for you, but can also be used during computer lab time or with the laptop cart.
Click on this image to be taken to the resource in my TpT Store

Each challenge card includes
• I Can statements based on the ISTE Standards for students
• The steps of the design process
• A link to the tech tool
• 9 editable challenge prompts

You could have students complete one, many, or all of the challenges on the page. They are editable so feel free to change them to meet your needs before sharing the file with your students. Also included in the file is the digital journal to complete along with the challenges. I have my students duplicate the blank template slide before they start on their challenge.

When students are finished:
•Create a class eBook in Google Slides where students each get one slide to insert their final product.
•Create a Padlet and have students upload their final product.
•Have a “gallery walk” where students have their final product up on their screen while they walk around to see classmates’ creations.
•Have students present their final product to the class

Why Students LOVE this STEM Challenge

Students love these STEM challenges because they are so much fun. The open ended challenge prompts mean that they have full creative license to complete the challenge their way. My students love any opportunity to try out a new technology tool, and this resource introduces them to 10 new ones. Once we had completed all 10 challenges, we used the technology tools again throughout the school year for different projects and my students just got better and better with each tool. They were really inspired to see how far they could take their skill with each tech tool.

Here is some feedback from other teachers about how much their students enjoy these design challenges:
"My kids love these!! They are motivated to get their work done during the week, so that they can have STEM time on Friday!"
"My kids in class loved them so much that I used them with my after school class and they were just as absorbed."
"My students have started begging to do another digital STEM Challenge!"

Why Teachers LOVE this STEM Challenge

Each program comes with an opportunity to learn something new and practice problem solving, but my students don't even know they are learning. The challenge prompts are editable, so teachers can design the activity around their current teaching topics. The prompts I wrote are great for grades 3-5, but this resource can really be used with any grade level. 

There is no need to make this activity a separate thing to complete in the day, it can be your math, science, ELA, or social studies lesson with the right challenge prompts. They are also a great assessment tool if your school does project based learning or open ended assessments. 

Here is some feedback I've received from a teacher who is using this resource:
"WOW! This purchase just saved me! What an amazing resource that exposes students to digital tools in a meaningful way! Very thorough. This will get me through the end of the school year. Thank you :)"

Action Shots of the STEM Challenge

Watch this video walk through of the challenges


You can print the challenge cards too!

More Amazing STEM Challenges Your Students Will Love




More Amazing STEM Challenges Your Students Will LOVE

Click on any of the images below to read about more STEM challenges from other STEM educators.
Brittany Washburn
Digital STEM Challenges
Boat STEM Meredith Anderson
Cargo Ship STEM
Get Caught Engineering
Animal Adaptations STEM
Brooke Brown - Teach Outside the Box
Roller Coaster STEM
Vivify STEM
STEM Space Lander
More Than a Worksheet
Paper Chain STEM
STEM to STEAM Trio
Sammie STEAM Challenge
Teachers are Terrific
Toothpick Tower STEM
Science School Yard
Simple Machines Challenges

Graphics and Font Credits: KG Fonts and PhotoClipz

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Brittany Washburn
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Save Money on Teachers Pay Teachers


6 Tips to Save Money Shopping on Teachers Pay Teachers

Who doesn't love saving money? As teachers, we know we need to be frugal with our classroom budgets. When the money is gone, the rest comes out of our pockets. These tips are designed to lessen the blow to your wallet.
Who doesn't love saving money? As teachers, we know we need to be frugal with our classroom budgets. When the money is gone, the rest comes out of our pockets. These tips are designed to lessen the blow to your wallet. 
Who doesn't love saving money? As teachers, we know we need to be frugal with our classroom budgets. When the money is gone, the rest comes out of our pockets. These tips are designed to lessen the blow to your wallet.

  4. Use a Purchase Order on Teachers Pay Teachers

This tip rocks! Did you know that you can use a purchase order on TpT and the resource is still in YOUR downloads? No more school accounts and you having to beg the secretary for another copy of the digital file you can't find. 

There is a page on the TpT website that walks you through the steps of using a purchase order, and I'm going to share their images here as a walk through.

The first step is to fill your cart with goodies. You need at least $20 to use a purchase order. Click check out and then you will see options for how to pay. Choose the Purchase Order tab. 

You have to fill in some information like your school name and location, then you click Download Now. This is your Purchase Order Quote. The price is locked in for 30 days, so another tip is to catch the site-wide sale when using a Purchase Order. 

On the form you download there will be a place for you to enter the purchase order number from your school and you need to email, mail, or fax the forms to TpT within 30 days. A school secretary is usually happy to do this step for you (ain't nobody got time for that).

Who doesn't love saving money? As teachers, we know we need to be frugal with our classroom budgets. When the money is gone, the rest comes out of our pockets. These tips are designed to lessen the blow to your wallet.

5. Add TpT gift cards to your classroom wish list

Your classroom parents need to know that TpT gift cards are available for purchase and preferred over candles, chocolate, and maybe even coffee! 

Get these adorable Classroom Wishlist Cards delivered to your inbox. The cards have QR codes directly to the TpT Gift Card Purchase page, plus blank templates for you to add you own!
Get these adorable Classroom Wishlist Cards delivered to your inbox. The cards have QR codes directly to the TpT Gift Card Purchase page, plus blank templates for you to add you own!

In most states, teachers can accept gifts up to $150 on behalf of the class, so be sure to let your room parent know the limit and that you would love some TpT gift cards!

Do you know how to use a TpT gift card? When you fill your cart with goodies, under the orange CHECKOUT button there is a spot to enter a gift card number. Easy peasy.


Who doesn't love saving money? As teachers, we know we need to be frugal with our classroom budgets. When the money is gone, the rest comes out of our pockets. These tips are designed to lessen the blow to your wallet.

6. Save 25% by purchasing additional licenses with a colleague

So, you found the perfect resource for your team. You send them the link and everyone puts it in their cart on TpT. NOT SO FAST! If you pool your money and purchase additional licenses you can save money! 

Most sellers discount additional licenses to half price. So if you and your teammate found a $10 resource with a $5 additional license, the total is $15. That means you each spend only $7.50 instead of $10 each! 

Even though it is a little bit annoying to then have to get your colleague the file, you saved money so who can really complain?! 

As a recap:
  • Use a purchase order on TpT to let someone else pay for your resources
  • Let your classroom parents know via your wishlist that you want TpT gift cards
  • Save money by teaming up with a colleague to buy additional licenses

Pin this blog post so that your can come back to the tips later. 

Who doesn't love saving money? As teachers, we know we need to be frugal with our classroom budgets. When the money is gone, the rest comes out of our pockets. These tips are designed to lessen the blow to your wallet.

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Brittany Washburn
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Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology


Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology

Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.

Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology

My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area. I'm going to focus on science in this post because that is how I use this tool with my students. If you're working on laptop or desktop computers, the main ABCYa website has this tool for free, but if you're on an iPad, they have an app that costs $4.99 (affiliate link from iTunes: click on the picture below to be taken to the download page).  In my opinion it is totally worth 5 bucks to have this multi-purpose tool. 


How does Animate work? VIS- Very Important Stuff

Luckily, the user interface is something that should make your students very comfortable, but there are a few things that I will point out that will make their final products awesome. ABCYa did make a tutorial for the program so I recommend starting there. 

Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.

 Make all the backgrounds the same

To make a fantastic looking animation, make all of the backgrounds the same. There is a button that says "edit background" for this. The cool thing is that you can draw, import, or choose from one of the options provided. For this particular tutorial I am doing the phases of the moon, so the "starry night" background is perfect. I chose to apply it to all frames. 
Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.

 Use text, shapes, drawings, and images

The more of the tool bar that is used, the better that the slides will come out. That being said, including too much can definitely be overkill. Instruct students to consider their audience when choosing how much stuff to include on each slide. It needs to be readable. 
The tool bar should be familiar enough to students. On the left side they choose the tool (pencil, paint, text, shapes) and then options will appear to the right for the size and color. There is an eraser tool as well as a delete button for deleting whole shapes, drawings, text, etc. 

Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.

 Copy Frame is your new best friend

That is what I tell my students, anyway. Show them this button and tell them how important it is to save time. Oh, I should mention that there is no way to save one of these and keep working on it later. It is a one-sitting tool so efficiency is important. 
When you copy a frame the entire thing is then available on the next frame. I used this to help me draw out the moon. I didn't have to make a new circle each time. 
Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.

Preview your work with the play button

 As students work through their animation, it is helpful to be able to see the progress. At any time, they can press the play button to preview the animation. There is also the ability to choose the speed (slow, medium, fast) and whether or not to play the animation over and over in a loop.
Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.

 When the animation is finished look for the orange circle

I'm so grateful that they made the save button a different color. Direct students to click "export as .gif" and choose a size compatible with your wifi connection. I usually choose the smallest possible version. 
Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.
Now what? I have my students upload their .gif files onto a padlet, which is my favorite free tool for publishing and turning in work. If you have access to Edmodo, Google Classroom, or some other education management system that should be the one you use, but padlet is a great option for everyone else. Padlet allows comments so I have my students leave feedback for each other's animations.

Science ideas for animations

Is your mind spinning with the possibilities yet? This tool is awesome for any processes, which is why I nearly always use it at the end of science units as a way for students to show me what they know. 

I'm going off of the NC science units for these topics, so if you follow a different set of standards just look for the topics your students learn. 
Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.
Sometimes I also use this tool for vocabulary. If a term has a process or would work particularly well to explain across multiple frames then I have students animate it and share it with me. I consider this "hands on" even though it is technology based because it really helps my students develop a deeper understanding of the processes. I would also consider this a STEM activity because it is open ended and cross-cutting the subject areas. 

We are a standards based grading school, so the scale is 1-4 with 4 being above and beyond and 1 being unable to understand/complete. 

Thanks for reading this post. If you're interested in using technology tools like this more in your classroom, check out my Digital STEM Challenges resource. 

Try ABCYa's Animate to Integrate Science and Technology  My all-time favorite technology tool to use is ABCYa's Animate. It is open ended so it can be used for nearly any topic and subject area.


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Brittany Washburn
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