Welcome to the paper and tape STEM Challenge, where your creativity and engineering skills will be put to the test as you design and construct a house using only paper and tape! Check out this easy STEM challenge that only requires these two materials!
STEM challenges have many benefits for children, such as team building, problem solving and critical thinking. They are also great for teachers and parents because they are typically inexpensive, low prep and well received by children.
My kids loved trying this new STEM activity. They were proud of what they were able to create from just paper and tape and they learned a lot along the way.
This project is part of the 10 STEM Activities with 10 Materials project. If you like the idea for this project, check out the other activities that together use only ten materials.
Easy STEM Challenge Materials
This STEM challenge is perfect for a rainy day or a time that your kids would benefit from some screen-free, hands-on play. There is no prep required for this activity. The materials you will need are:
- Construction Paper (Newspaper can also work).
- Tape (Masking tape or clear tape will work).
If you don’t have tape, or want to try something different, elastics can also work for this challenge. However, young children tend to be able to use tape easier than elastics. Elastics are a great alternative to be able to reuse the paper easily after building. It’s up to you what you use.
Simply give children the materials and let their imagination do the rest!
Easy STEM Activity Card
There is an activity card for this challenge. You can print it and either give it to children, tape it at a classroom table and make it a center in the classroom or, print it and put it in a zipper bag with the materials needed for the challenge.
Paper STEM Challenge
Below I have shown a few ideas that my kids tried. There are unlimited solutions to STEM challenges. As long as children build a paper house that they can sit in, then they completed the challenge.
Once children have the materials, they can start the challenge! For STEM challenges, I suggest not guiding children or telling them how they should complete the challenge. You may miss out on some great ideas.
Even if their initial ideas don’t work out, children will learn a lot from their attempt and start to learn what they need to change in order to make it work.
The attempt above was a creative idea. The child used the paper and a few rolls to create something like a bridge. They found they were not successful in making it stable enough to sit in though. They continued building with the rolls to successfully create a house.
Ultimately, most children will find that rolling the paper creates the most buildable pieces.
Another strategy that works well when building is folding a smaller roll and bending it to secure two rolls of paper together at a corner. Other children may simply use lots of tape to secure the corners.
This was an interesting strategy and it worked to make the frame of the house stronger.
Easy STEM Challenge Ideas
As children build and create, they may find that their house keeps falling or tilting. That’s a big part of this challenge – making the house stable and free standing.
As the house falls, encourage children to find way to help make it stronger. They may add paper to different spots and start to add extra pieces. Many children started to find that any triangles they added provided a lot of support and helped their structure stand.
These types of discoveries are part of why STEM challenges are so beneficial. Children experiment and learn on their own what works best. They play around with different shapes and find that certain ones, like triangles, are best for building.
Make sure to provide enough time for kids to build and improve on their structure to let the learning really happen.
In the end, you will have a structure or something that resembles a house. It doesn’t have to look like a typical house, it simply needs to be a structure big enough for the child to fit in.
Easy STEM Challenge Alterations
Once my kids were happy with their house, they started adding to their structure. They wanted the house to be enclosed so they added paper around the outside.
They found that this added extra weight and their house started to tilt so they had to rethink their plans and add extra supports around the walls to keep it from falling.
The final result was a creative and impressive house!
Make sure to give lots of time for kids to work on their paper house. The more time they have, the more details they will often start to include.
Easy STEM Challenge Using Only 2 Materials
It was interesting to see some of the initial ideas from children for this easy STEM challenge. Not giving children guidance, in terms of suggestions and ideas, for how to complete this challenge will lead to some amazing ideas. Whether they work or not, doesn’t matter, it allows a child to imagine.
One idea a child had for this project, and they were really excited to try it out, was to create the sides to their house by sticking tape from the ceiling to the floor and then sticking the paper flat to the strips to create a (really tall) tent.
Using the celling, or even walls in the room never crossed my mind that kids would incorporate them into their challenge, but it was fun to watch what they had imagined.
I hope that you enjoy this easy STEM challenge as much as we all did. Remember that if children become frustrated while doing this activity, that’s all part of the challenge. The solution is not intended to be found on the first try. It’s all about the process.
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