1. STEM Bouyancy

    STEM Bouyancy:

    Book: WHO SANK THE BOAT? Pamela Allen

    Songs: “ROW, ROW, ROW Your Boat” and “A Sailor went to See See See"

    Key Concepts: Buoyancy, Hydrophobic materials, boat construction and mass.


    When a boat floats, it settles into the water, pushing the water aside to make room for itself. The force that it is pushing the boat into the water is called gravity. It is a two way pushing match, however. Water pushes back onto the bottom of the boat. This force, called buoyancy holds the boat out of the water. The more water a boat pushes aside, the more force there will be pushing back on the boat and supporting it. This is why a boat’s size and shape makes such a difference in how much of a load it can carry without sinking.


    Materials: foil, coins, water in a container.

    • Design a boat out from the tin foil.
    • Predict how many coins it will hold when floating on water.
    • Test you prediction. Make sure you observe what happened when your boat sank.
    • Adjust your design based on what you observed, then repeat steps 2 and 3.

    Rules: Your resources are limited! Be wise in what you use.

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  2. Marshmallow Challenge

    Marshmallow Challenge:

    STEM Challenges

    Build the highest, free-standing structure from 20 sticks of (uncooked) spaghetti, one metre of string and one metre of masking tape, in just 18 minutes. The tower must be able to support a marshmallow at the top.

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  3. Spaghetti and Marshmallow Tower

    Spaghetti and Marshmallow tower:

    Spaghetti and Marshmallow Tower

    A variation on the Marshmallow Challenge, where this time marshmallows can be used to form part of the structure. Build the highest, free-standing structure possible out of 30 marshmallows and 20 pieces of raw spaghetti. (For extra challenge: The structure must support the weight of a book).

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  4. Bridge Challenge

    Bridge Challenge:

    Bridge Challenge

    Design and build a free-standing bridge that will support as much weight as possible. The bridge must span an opening of 30 cm and must be wide enoguh for a toy car to drive over it. (Materials can vary for this task: Spaghetti could be used again, or plastic straws, balsa wood, string, paddle pop sticks, masking tape, drawing pins, etc.) 

    Extra challenge and extra maths: The bridge must be as light as possible. The bridge with the best ‘strength to weight’ ratio wins.

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  5. Egg Drop Challenge

    Egg Drop Challenge:

    Egg Drop Challenge

    Design a contraption that protects a falling egg (or water balloon) when it is dropped from a set height. Set a limited amount of resources. Resources could be anything recycled.

    Possible contexts could be helmet design, parachutes, landing a rover on Mars.

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    Middle Primary School

    Key Concepts: Geometric Shapes in man made structures or nature.

    Artists have been taking inspiration from their surroundings for centuries and using geometric shapes to represent it. Man made and natural structures also provide excellent examples of geometric shapes.

    Urban Landscape       Bee Hive   Planet Earth
    An urban landscape                               A bee hive                             Planet Earth

    Materials: Tangrams, Scissors, Pencils, Glue, Card Board, Pictures.

    TANGRAMS (Can be themed)

    • Investigate the names of each of the shapes. Can you find examples of them in the library?
    • Use all of the Tangram pieces to create each of the designs.
    • Can you create a square using all of the pieces?
    • Design your own Tangram artwork. 

    For younger kids, lines in the picture to show where the shapes go will help them with the task.

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  7. STEM ACTIVITY: Designing a Wind Powered Car

    STEM ACTIVITY: Designing a Wind Powered Car
    Middle to Upper Primary

    Book: Ollie and the Wind (Ronojoy Ghosh)

    Key Concepts: Energy Transformation, Engineering Design process, Forces, Measurement.

    In Victoria, we generate most of our electricity from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are considered a polluting, non-renewable form of energy. It is the job of future engineers to develop clean and sustainable means of producing energy for both electricity and to power our cars.

    Energy is the ability to do work. Energy comes in many forms: chemical energy, electrical energy, heat energy, light energy, mechanical energy and nuclear energy. Wind energy is a form of renewable energy that comes from wind. Other types of renewable energies include slow but steady tidal power, geothermal power (only possible in some areas, tapping heat from deep in the Earth), and biofuels (fuels derived from plants and algae). These energy types are renewable because the source of the energy is never ending (wind, sun, water etc.). Perhaps wind energy might be the energy source for future cars?


    Design a mast and sail for a car of the future. You have been provided with a car base to attach it to. Plan it using the materials given and the design engineer process. You will need to test and adjust your design so that you obtain the best distance travelled by your car.

    Measure the distance it travels when using a fan (A more specific machine/toy could be provide: car, kit, plane, boat).

    Rules: Your resources are limited! Be wise in what you use.

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    Lower/Middle Primary

    “Computers are amazing, but they can’t think for themselves (yet!). They require people to give them instructions. Coding is a list of step-by-step instructions that get computers to do what you want them to do. Coding makes it possible for us to create computer software, games, apps and websites.”

    Materials: cardboard, lego pieces and sticky notes.

    Will the Captain of the ship stop the pirate from stealing the jewels? Use basic coding to find out!

    • Set out the obstacles as you like in any of the squares.
    • Place your characters on the stars. They can face whatever direction you choose.
    • Use the sticky notes to select the direction of movement. You can move forward, left or right. You can only move one square. Each sticky note represents one square. You will need to put these in a line (like a code).

    Extension: Add another action that you person could complete. Design your own game world and set of codes.

    Rules: Your resources are limited! Be wise in what you use.

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    What is an adaptation?

    An adaptation is a physical or behavioral characteristic that an organism has developed over time to increase its chances of survival in a particular environment.

    What is camouflage?

    Camouflage is a method of making oneself hard to detect. An animal may be trying to conceal its appearance, sound, or scent. The term is used most often to describe an animal blending into its surroundings. Camouflage is an adaptation.

    What are some different types of camouflage?

    Camo 1

    The most common type of camouflage is background matching. That means the animal is blending into its surroundings and is therefore more difficult to see. This may simply mean the coloration of the animal matches the colors of its habitat.

    Camo 2

    Some animals will actively cover themselves with soil, leaf litter, sand, twigs, seaweed, or other materials in order to conceal themselves. This is called self decoration.

    Camo 3

    Animals such as sharks have white underbellies and darker colors on top. From below, the white blends in with the water. Looking down at a shark from above, it blends in with the darkness underwater. This type of two-tone coloring is called counter shading.

    Camo 4

    Another type of camouflage is when an animal looks like an uninteresting, harmless object. There are insects that look amazingly like leaves and fish that look just like rocks.

    Camo 5

    When a bold pattern of stripes or spots helps an animal survive, it is called disruptive coloration. This type of coloring can break up the outline of an animal, making it difficult for a predator to pinpoint one individual. For example, a lion typically chooses one zebra as a target. When a herd of zebras starts to run, it creates a confusing blur of stripes that dizzies the eye of the lion.

    What are the advantages of camouflage?

    Camouflage helps prey to hide from predators. When prey survives, it can reproduce and pass its genes to the next generation. This improves the chances that the species will continue to exist. Some predators use camouflage to hide from prey. If a predator is camouflaged, the prey may unknowingly come close by. When the prey is close enough, the predator can attack. This tactic helps the species of the predator to survive and reproduce.

    Design a costume for a miniature person (or an animal) that can blend into one part of the school, backyard or home. The aim is that they are hard to find when standing right in front of you!

    Notes: This could be open to all age groups and there are endless possibilities to choose from.

    Age 3-7: Have a picture of a scene rather than the entire library to choose from (eg the ocean). Provide them with an image on filter paper and textas to colour in. Use water in a spray bottle to blend the edges.

    Age 7 and above: Own drawings OR 3D form with multiple mediums available. The options are endless!

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  10. Balloon Powered Car

    Balloon Powered Car:

    Balloon Powered Car

    Design a car that is able to move the furthest using the power of just one balloon. Materials might include bricks such as Lego, or recycled materials, or a set amount of materials.

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