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September 19, 2013 Building Teamwork and Bridges: A STEM Icebreaker By Alycia Zimmerman
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Nothing feels quite so right in my classroom as the productive buzz (make that roar!) when my students are passionately tackling an engineering challenge. This sort of hands-on, mind-on learning promotes critical thinking, real world problem solving, and addresses a host of STEM content. All too often, however, I find that I save this type of learning until the latter part of the school year when I'm confident in our solid classroom community and I've covered the other standards.

    Recently, I decided to turn that thinking around and begin introducing engineering design challenges during the first weeks of school. Not only am I now working some of these projects into my autumn content units, but I'm also using other design challenges like this bridge building challenge to introduce my students to the design thinking process and to build my classroom community. Think of this as an über icebreaker! 

    Learn how to hold a "Gumdrop Bridge Challenge" in your own classroom (mobile users, please go to: ) and check out the accompanying printable (and whiteboard-ready) resources below.

    Bridge Building Design Challenge Resources

    Download the "Bridge Building Challenge" guide >

    Download the "A-B-D-C-E of Engineering Design Process" presentation >

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