Are you ready for winter sports? If you are like me, then you’re super excited! Confession: I recently took one of those Facebook quizzes where you count all the shows you’ve watched and compare them with other people. My score was a measly 12 out of 90 shows!
I never watch television!
Watching the Winter Olympics is something I enjoy doing because the athletes are superhuman and inspirational!
I’m excited to teach my class about winter sports this year. You see, we live near the beach, so we hardly ever get snow. The Winter Olympics is a great cultural experience for us, and it’s also a great way to sneak in some learning.
We’re focusing on force and motion with these activities. That seems to be the theme with winter sports.
The plan is to do one sport each week throughout January and February. Since we have holidays and breaks, it works perfectly for us!
Okay, so let’s get down to business. Let me show you what these Winter Sports STEM Challenges are…
1. The Sport of Speed Skating
In this STEM challenge, students will learn about the center of gravity. They’ll do a simple experiment on a wall to test their center of gravity. It is so much fun! Students start by placing their foot and shoulder completely on the wall. Then, they try to lift the opposite leg. It’s hilarious watching them fall over.
We use experiment printables for students to write their thinking. Some make the discovery themselves which is always incredible.
After the experiment, they read about speed skaters and how they use their center of gravity to make sharp turns around the ice rink. Think about it – they make it look easy on TV, but they stay super low so they don’t topple over.
Speed skaters use their center of gravity to stay balanced when making turns on the rink. Students experiment with the center of gravity by creating pipe cleaner speed skaters. All you need for this STEM challenge is three pipe cleaners and one hard lifesaver per student.
The challenge is to create a speed skater that stands upright. We use printable pages for documenting our planning and our thought process. It’s helpful for getting students to slow down and think critically before moving on to the next step.
2. Winter Sports STEM: Bobsledding
We start this lesson by asking, “Why do you think bobsledders stay low?” Students conduct an experiment called “Don’t be a Drag!” They take two sheets of paper, crumble one, and drop them at the same time. The crumbled paper hits the ground first because it has less drag.
Students use their experiment pages to record their results. I let them try in different ways by standing on the chairs, dropping from the top of stairs, etc.
After the experiment, they read about the science that goes into the sport of bobsledding. Drag slows the team down. To have the quickest time, bobsledders try to keep from having drag by staying low and moving in the direction of the turns.
Here’s the best part- the kids get to make a bobsled with gummy bears! My class had so much fun doing this. I place my students in groups of 2 – 3 to create a bobsled course that has at least five turns and one straight section. Then, we test the bobsledders laying down and sitting upright.
Students use a timer to test the bobsled with the bears laying down and standing up. It’s neat to see the bears lose their center of gravity when they’re standing up. They usually topple over.
Our students get to go around the classroom testing each other’s bobsled course with this method. It’s the cutest! We celebrate the champs with extra gummy bears.
3. Winter Sports STEM: Alpine Skiing
For this STEM challenge, students learn about unbalanced and balanced forces. Students read about how alpine skiers use these forces to make their sharp turns.
Did you know that they have to have strong muscles to transfer the force of energy from one direction to another?
You can either use a cookie sheet or foam trifold board for this activity. Students create a course that’s up to one foot long or between two and three feet long. The course must have a start, six turns, and a finish.
I created two different printables depending on which course you choose to take.
Students design their ski slopes and race other students in the Ski Slope Challenge.
I like this activity because students go around the room testing one another’s course. They record their times so they can see who won each course.
The following two challenges are my most favorite. The fun won’t last long, though, but it’s the perfect amount of time for those Fridays when we finish early. I also used help from our cafeteria manager (who is fantastic).
4. Curling STEM Activity
In this STEM challenge, students will learn about friction. They take a marble and roll it down different surfaces like a smooth surface, grass, and carpet. They use the printable to answer four questions about their science experiment.
As skaters skate on the ice rink, the skates create ice pebbles. Curlers sweep the ice pebbles to decrease friction and help the curling stone move to the target. The students conduct a simple friction experiment.
Then, they read about the sport of curling. Students will play a game of curling with a frozen sheet of ice on a cookie pan (this was easy to do). They will use a candy cane to launch a lifesaver gummy.
I’ve also included a dry option. Simply draw the target on wax paper and tape it down to the desk. Use a bottle cap packed with playdough to act as the stone. Sprinkle a little salt on the desks for students to sweep.
To create pebbles on an ice sheet, take a metal fork and scrape it on the ice sheet. You can also sprinkle crushed ice onto the ice sheet.
Students create a broom using plastic straws and scissors. The kids tally up their points to see who wins.
We played with these ice sheets until they melted!
Since we couldn’t add pebbles, we added a little crushed ice.
*To create an ice sheet, I first drew the targets on the pan with a permanent marker. Then, I placed the sheet in the freezer and poured the water in. This keeps it from spilling over.
Again, if you’re unable to use a frozen sheet, I recommend using the bottle caps and desk.
5. Hockey STEM Challenge
Ice hockey is a super fun game! Students learn about the angle of deflection with a simple experiment. They use tape to predict the path at which a marble will bounce off the wall. They then test their predictions and record their answers.
After the experiment, they learn about how a puck moves throughout the hockey rink. Afterward, students create a six-inch-wide hockey goal. Students use this to play table hockey with a partner.
This one is so much fun!
This game is perfect for children of all ages. Younger students may need more support with measuring the straws, but they’ll find creating the goal challenging and fun!
I’m telling you, this resource is one that your students will remember you for.
I created an Instagram Highlight titled “Winter STEM” for these challenges so you can see them in action in our classroom. We had a blast doing these!
I designed these 5 Winter STEM Games STEM Challenges with your classroom in mind. Each Winter STEM challenge includes:
- 5E lesson plan
- STEM challenge
- Response sheets
They have simple materials along with a materials checklist. I even included pictures and teacher tips to help those who are a little more STEM challenged. #guilty
It’ll not only teach them about winter sports, but it will also teach them about science. They won’t even realize they’re doing STEM! They’ll think it’s fun. That’s my most favorite part about this whole resource. If you want more STEM ideas for this time of the year, check out my STEM ideas for November!