Apples are Not Just for Eating!

There's nothing like a good STEM challenge created by my friend, Kerry Tracy, to motivate students and engage them in problem solving and engineering design. 
Aligned with the NGSS, this activity challenged students to create headgear (using limited materials) to hold an apple during a relay race. Student used pipe cleaners, tape, rubberbands, cardboard, tape, and string. These challenges always amaze me at how readily students jump in and start exploring with materials.
Some of their headgear were very creative! However, not only did the apple have to stay balanced on the child's head, but it had to be easily passed to the next team member.

This student got very creative: while he was running, his apple started to slip out of his holder, so he kept readjusting the tilt of his head to balance the apple!
 Whoops, this student thought he'd take the easy way out by just sticking his apple in a bag on his head. The criteria said the apple must be visible, so he cut a hole to display his apple, but it was a tad bit too large so when he started running, the force of the apple started ripping the bag. it was hilarious!!
After a couple relay rounds in teams, students discussed and revised their designs. These revised headgear were definitely much more sturdy! This was a great introduction to the engineering cycle; we plan to do many more STEM challenges this year! Each challenge comes with planning & recording sheets, as well as discussion questions. You can find Apples-a-Head & more fantastic STEM challenges here


  1. Kathie, thanks so much for posting! It sincerely delights me to see the pics of students with their designs! The paper bag photo cracked me up!

    1. This challenge was a blast & I think I'm getting better at timing and guiding questions :) Love your challenges!!