10+ STEM Challenge Ideas with FREE Worksheets

Krystal DeVille

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Great STEM lessons encourage creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving.

These hands-on STEM challenge ideas focus on those standards, and all come with a free worksheet or printable to include with the challenge!

We looked for a good mix of ideas! You’ll find a combination of both serious and silly. Some looking at earth science, others focused on coding. After all, STEM shouldn’t ever be boring!

Before we get into the list, I encourage you to check out all of our free STEM worksheets along with our free eBook of STEM activities.

10 Free STEM Challenge Worksheets

1. The Marshmallow Challenge 


Described in Tom Wujec’s 2010 TED Talk and often used by both business and education leaders to initiate team building and to commence focus on STEM training, the marshmallow challenge involves providing a team of students with twenty sticks of dry spaghetti, one yard of tape, a string, and a marshmallow.

Teams have eight minutes to build the tallest freestanding structure with the marshmallow on top. This is a great activity to begin a STEM class because of the way that it initiates collaboration and deep-thinking in an ancillary and introductory way.

Download this Free Marshmallow Challenge worksheet for your class.

2. Wind Power Challenge


This STEM challenge from Practical Action prompts students to build a wind turbine. The goal of their simple wind machine is to lift a cup off the floor. The activity is for students 7 years old and up. But its a great challenge for middle school aged students too! 

Download the free printable resources and worksheets here. (You can even download a free poster on renewable energy for your classroom!)

3. Basketball STEM Challenge

You can find this free STEM worksheet on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

It’s designed for grades 3rd through 5th. The challenge is to design a tower out of newspaper that can hold the basketball. The free worksheet comes with plenty of extra tips for the teachers too!

4. The Egg Drop Challenge


 The egg drop challenge  is a classic! Students design and create a safety container for a raw egg. While the challenge is very engineering and design focused, there’s a great math & business element at play here too.

Resources in this activity are limited. In the downloadable worksheet, students only have $100 to spend. They have to budget accordingly. You, as the teacher, get to set the prices for all of the supplies for the students to buy.

Once students have built their design, hold a class competition to see who created the safest container.

The egg drop challenge is simple and challenging enough for students at all levels to effectively participate and to have a great time.

Download a free lesson plan and worksheet for the egg drop challenge here.

5. Parachuting Onto Mars 

This STEM challenge Designed by NASA features extensive resources from the organization. The challenge asks students to “design and test a drag device to slow a spacecraft and protect its cargo, as well as calculate the surface area and measure the mass of the spacecraft.”

Students will create a video featuring the process they followed to arrive at their conclusions, and this video can be submitted to NASA as part of the challenge.

Download the teacher resources here.

6. Cat Meme Generator 


The creators of Raspberry Pi compiled an exhaustive set of resources for integrating Raspberry Pi projects into the curriculum.

One of their funniest resources is a STEM challenge that asks students to create a original cat meme using JavaScript functionality. With memes being a primary language of teens, it seems like a great time to integrate this into the classroom. This guide will walk you through every step, so even if you don’t know how to code, you’ll be able to guide your classroom! 

7. Paper Table Design Challenge 


For this STEM challenge ideas, all you need is cardboard, tape, and newspaper. Students have 20 minutes to build a table that can hold a large dictionary for 60 seconds. Its a quick and easy STEM activity to quickly integrate into the classroom (and it won’t break the bank!) 

8. Bridges of the World STEM Challenge

This free printable worksheet contains challenge cards for bridges all of the world. Build the bridge from blocks, toothpicks, or sticks! It’s a great activity for early elementary school.

Get the full lesson and download here.

9. Mystery STEM Bag Challenge

You’ll never run out of STEM challenges when you download these design challenge cards from Buggy & Buddy.

Kids complete the challenge on their card using on the materials in their bag. You’ll need recycled materials like pipe cleaners, cardboard, egg cartons, etc. to complete this challenge. but that’s all it takes! Some recycled materials, bag, and the printable cards.

You can also put the kids in teams for encouraging teamwork as they conquer their challenge.

10. 3D Shapes Robot Challenge


Build robots out of 3D shapes in this great STEM challenge for pre-k and kindergarten students. It’s helpful to show students how 3D shapes are made by having flat versions too.

Download the free worksheet here that goes along with the activity.

Wrapping Up

There’s plenty of free resources out there for great STEM challenges in your classroom! Or hop over to Teachers Pay Teachers for additional STEM challenge worksheets and printables.

Download our free scientific method worksheet too for a great worksheet to accompany every science experiment you do!

What challenges have you tried in your classroom? Let us know in the comments!

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