Jamie, I totally hear you - with our new CCSS requirements, it definitely feels overwhelming at times! (Okay, most of the time.) Usually I design challenges that fit the content I have to cover per our standards. This bridge building activity can fit into covering geometry standards (2d/3d shapes, polyhedrons, angles, etc.) To see how to turn this into a more math-y activity, check out the printable gumdrop math activity in this older blog post: www.scholastic.com/teachers/classroom-solutions/2012/05/getting-shapes-–-geometry-unit-photos-part-1. In science, it can work with a forces and motion unit. Most importantly, I think it fits with the push towards autonomous student conversations and critical thinking. This can work with the "Speaking and Listening" standards in the CCSS, especially if you add in an informational text about bridges that the kids can refer to. I use other STEM challenges that more closely fit our third grade science and social studies standards for my state - building inventions using simple machines (our simple machine unit,) developing a better play-doh (our matter unit,) etc. Good luck!
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