Stem Projects For 6th Graders

Stem Projects For 6th Graders – Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy project to impress your kids or need a last-minute STEM challenge for the classroom, look no further than plain old paper! A simple piece of paper has endless possibilities when it comes to STEM. Here are some of my favorite easy paper STEM activities that require no prep work.

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Stem Projects For 6th Graders

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For these challenges, you’ll want to review the STEM design process and the scientific method with the kids. This helps remind them how to approach a STEM challenge in a strategic way that increases the likelihood of success.

Reminding kids that missteps and failed attempts are part of the process will give them a little more confidence to just jump in and try.

NOTE: If you think it would be helpful to have a simple template to help with the index card and helicopter challenge, we have one available for members of our STEAM Powered Family Mailing List. Just enter your email address here to unlock the printer.

This is such a fun challenge. Ask the children – can you place an index card? The answer is undoubtedly no. Then ask “What if I give you scissors?” Then you will be able to collect?” Let’s try.

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Let the children think about how they can complete the task and test their theories. Any luck?

Let’s talk math. When looking at the circumference of an object like an index card, we would simply multiply the length by the width. For an index card that would mean 3×5=15.

This can seem a little confusing, so here’s a video that shows how to cut the index card. If you can’t see the video, make sure your ad blockers are turned off as they are also blocking our video feed. Watch until the end to see the paper helicopter fly too!

2. Make 2 cuts on the folded edge about a quarter of an inch from the outside and almost all the way.

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Now look again. What do you notice? How did the card change? What is the new volume? Can we do it again? Return to the planning phase. How can you fit all the way through the card?

You can show the children that it is actually possible to fit them through an index card. By making specific cuts, you can change the circumference enough that the opening will allow you to fit through.

5. Continue turning the paper and cutting until you reach the other side. Be careful not to cut the paper all the way through at any point.

6. Carefully unfold the paper and go through! (If you are working with older students, they may just be able to fit their heads through the card).

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If you want a little more math – let the kids solve the perimeter of the new card! Simple, attractive and really zero preparation!

Paper Chain STEM Challenge How about the longest paper chain you can create from a sheet of paper?

This is an exciting project to see how children think. I’m sure most have made a paper chain at some point. My daughter loves making them as a countdown to holidays, birthdays, graduations, and days off! This simple, no-prep activity will really get kids thinking, and the great thing is that they can work in groups or individually – whichever suits your situation best.

With just a pair of scissors, a glue stick or tape and a sheet of paper, make the longest paper chain you can in say 20-30 minutes.

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Take the first five minutes to think about the challenge and plan your strategy. Promise them that if you think about it you’ll give them an edge over someone who just dives in and goes to work. When the time is up, the students will have to transport and place the chain to measure it without it falling apart.

The thinner the strips of paper and the closer to the ends they are glued, the longer the chain will be – but the thinner and closer to the ends, the weaker the chain as a whole and may not transport. These are the moments of critical thinking that we want children to recognize.

Although the construction of the chain itself is part of the process, there are also some nice mathematical connections. Of course we can count the links in the longest chain, we can also measure how long the chains are – add them – subtract the difference. For older kids, you can have them convert from inches to feet to yards—have them estimate if the chain is that long—how many pieces of paper we’ll need to cross the room, or walk down the hall, or to the next town. You can let the children draw their results. There are so many amazing possibilities with just that little piece of paper.

Give your students 3 pieces of paper, some tape and some books. We want to see in which shape a column can hold the most books without collapsing a circle, triangle or square.

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First, let the children make some hypotheses. Play with the paper but don’t glue anything yet – look at the shapes and the different ways you can make them, what do you think will be the strongest and why? Record your results.

Have each student or group make their own shapes. Don’t give them limits on how they make the shapes, see what they come up with. Some children can make the shapes go to the edge of the paper – others can overlap – this is perfect as seeing the different designs and how they fit together is part of the process.

Once the shapes are constructed – start arranging the books. Make sure students use the same books for each shape so they know the weight is the same in their three shapes. How much did each hold? What was the strongest?

All groups should discover that their circular shape is the strongest. Both the square and the triangle hold weight along their edges and corners, so they shift and collapse more easily. The circular pillar has no edges and corners, so all the weight is distributed evenly.

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You can also compare between groups – one method of making a shape results in a stronger shape than another.

Explain to the children that columns have been used in architecture throughout the centuries. Depending on the age of your students, you can show them examples or have them research the use of columns in different structures and present their findings to the class.

Another variation of this activity is the one we did earlier, building a paper bridge. This is a great way to show how you can build strong structures with paper.

This is another quick and easy paper activity that kids will love! Each student will need a sheet of paper, scissors and 3 clips of different weights and sizes. For example, a plastic clip, a small wire clip and a large one.

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Fold your single piece of paper into three equal sections along its longest side so that you have three sections that are approximately 8.5×3.5 inches.

Cut the pieces along the folds. From here you need to fold each of these pieces in half short end to short end and then fold it up.

Cut one end of the paper along the middle from the end to almost the center fold.

Flip it over and cut 2 small slits on either side of the fold about a third of the way through and fold both sides to the center.

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Now flip it back to the top and fold the two tabs apart to form the propellers.

Hold it by the clutch, gently toss it in the air and watch it spin!

Note that you can see a video of the helicopter in flight at the end of the video above.

Paper helicopters can lead to a discussion of lift: that’s when the air below your propeller pushes up harder than the air above pushes down. This slows down gravity and causes the helicopter to spin.

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Speaking of gravity, have students repeat the cutting and folding process with the other two pieces of paper, each using a paperclip. Start all three from the same location. Which country first – do you know why? How does the weight and size of the paper clip affect the gravity of the helicopter? The heavier the object, the greater the gravitational force and the faster it falls. What if we use a different type of paper? Like a heavier cardboard box? How

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