The seasons and holidays are a great opportunity to celebrate with fun, themed learning activities. Leprechauns and a pot of gold fill todays activity with a St. Patricks Day STEM challenge for kids. There are a few ways to set up this STEM challenge, but the goal is the same – help the leprechaun get to their pot of gold!
In the past we have created leprechaun traps in my classroom, and at home, and they are always a hit, but this year instead of trying to catch a leprechaun, we are trying to help them!
STEM challenges are always a great way to develop important skills, such as problem solving, team work and critical thinking. They typically use simple materials and are largely done independently. Best of all they are hands-on and fun!
STEM activities include a mix of Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Math.
In my classroom the other day, I set up a STEM center with the materials to make catapults. I made one example and then challenged the kids to recreate their own, based on the model. It was by far the most popular center and I had many requests to provide the center again…so here we are!
With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I have kept the catapult and added a St. Patrick’s Day twist to it. I can’t wait to bring it back to the classroom next week!
Below you will find everything you need to set up you own Easy St. Patricks Day STEM Challenge for Kids.
St. Patrick’s Day STEM Materials
One of my favorite things about STEM challenges is that the materials are often simple items you already have around your house. Links to products can also be found at the bottom of this page.
For the St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge, you will need:
- Popsicle Sticks (8 per child works well.)
- Small Elastics (Small ones tend to be easier for young children to work with)
- Plastic Soon
For the actual item that flies off the catapult I have included a printable leprechaun image that can be attached to a small wooden block. Or you can use anything else you have around your home, from a cotton ball to a coin. Keep it simple and use what you have on hand.
I like giving children the printed activity card of directions. It can help focus their work and gives them a specific task.
There are three pages of printables featured in this post. They are all available in the Free Resource Library which is free for subscribers and you can sign up today! Link below.
Easy St. Patricks Day STEM Set Up
Once you have all of your materials, you are ready to begin! There is no prep required for this challenge. However, there are a few different ways you can do the activity.
You can simply give children the activity card and all of the materials they need. For older children you can make part of the challenge figuring out how all of the materials can be used together to create a catapult.
For younger children, I suggest providing the materials they need, but also giving them an example of the catapult. They can touch, hold and compare their materials to the completed catapult and recreate it.
This is a great engineering and math skill for young children to develop! Looking at the 3D catapult, can they stack the 6 popsicle sticks for the base and then figure out how to attach the spoon and last 2 sticks.
You can also choose to give children the other STEM activity card that includes a picture of a completed catapult. This example is a great option if you are creating a STEM activity kit for children to complete on their own, or at home.
Regardless of how you set up your challenge, children will be using engineering skills to create their catapult.
Give children time to create their catapult. They may find putting the two popsicle sticks that go through the six that create the base tricky, but let them problem solve and figure it out. Some of the best learning comes from making mistakes and then sticking with the challenge to figure it out.
St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge
This challenge is more then just creating a catapult. Once created, children are challenged to help their leprechaun jump/fly to get to their pot of gold.
If you want to extend the activity a little bit, and add some art, you can provide kids with the popsicle sticks ahead of time to paint or decorate to make their catapult even more appealing.
My kids got creative and made rainbow catapults and ones with lots of green!
Once the catapults are created, even more fun begins as kids test out their catapults. Move to a space that has lots of room for the leprechauns to ‘jump’.
Set the leprechaun on the spoon, hold the base of the catapult and pull down on the tip of the spoon and let go! The leprechaun will go flying through the air – to their pot of gold!
If you have some pots, or even cups, you can set them on the other side of the catapults for children to aim their leprechaun towards as a pot of gold.
If some of the leprechauns do not go very far, or go high, but not far, it is a wonderful opportunity for children to make changes on their catapults to see what happens.
- What happens if you move the spoon up higher?
- What happens if you move the stick that goes through the base back or forward more?
- Touch less of the spoon before letting go. What happens?
There are lots of things that kids can do to make their leprechaun go further. Make sure to leave lots of time for kids to test, and alter their catapult because there is a lot of learning that happens at this stage.
St. Patricks Day STEM Extension Ideas
If you don’t want to use the leprechaun image, you can use other materials to send through the air. As always be aware of your surroundings so that nothing gets hit from the flying objects.
In class, I originally used cotton balls and pompoms on the catapults because they were quiet, soft and they didn’t go too far. It was easier to keep contained in the classroom.
Have fun trying different materials and switching it up.
This St. Patricks Day STEM Challenge is also an easy activity to incorporate lots of math into. Once the catapults are created, you can have children line up their creations and send an object flying in the air. (If you have lots of kids doing it at the same time, make sure to write their name on their flying objects.)
Once all objects have been sent flying, measure how far they each went. Then give kids a chance to make any changes to their catapult that they want.
Record the distance each time to see improvements and compare similar features of the best catapults.
I hope that your kids St. Patrick’s Day is filled with lots of fun and learning!
27 St. Patrick’s Day STEM Ideas
If you like this St. Patricks Day STEM challenge, then you are also going to love this collection of 27 St. Patricks Day STEAM Activities. From fizzing shamrocks and rainbow slime to growing a pot of gold and free printables, there is lots to fill your St. Patrick’s Day and make it special for kids.
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St. Patricks Day STEM Printables
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
Making learning fun and hands-on is easy with this collection of activities for kids. From a fizzing shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day and a collection of 45+ STEM challenges for any time to year to escape room games and outdoor activities, there is lots to keep kids busy and learning all year round!