Today in math, we incorporated one of my favorite things to do, a STEM Challenge. Students love STEM challenges! I love to watch them, collaborate and discuss how to efficiently construct, while trying to win a challenge. This STEM Challenge asks for students to create the longest paper chain out of one piece of construction paper. Super easy and super engaging!
The objective of today’s challenge was to create the longest paper chain using 1 sheet of 12 x 18 construction paper. I allowed students to pick their group members. At the first of the year, kids always pick their friends. As we have been doing this throughout the year, the students no longer gravitate towards their friends, rather they pick kids they know will be a resource to their group.
After they pick their groups of 3 (I had a couple groups of 4 because of an odd man out), students were given a handout with the objective of the challenge. To download your own copy of the handout click here- Great Chain Race Handout
Longest Paper Chain Procedure
I handed out 1 sheet of paper (each group got a different color), 1 pair of scissors and 1 stick of glue to each group. I set the timer and students had 60 minutes to build the longest chain. My blocks are 90 minutes so doing this for an hour allowed us to have 30 minutes left over to go onto part 2 of the handout. If you have a shorter class, you could always set the timer for less. You could also complete the remainder of the handout on the next day. You could have the paper chain building on one day and save the actual math calculations and graph building for the next day.
Students worked well in groups and every group came up with a plan and jobs for each person. I am amazed at the different strategies that emerged! Some students tried little rings, some tried large, skinny rings, some tried many different types of rings in their paper chain.