Did you know Benjamin Franklin was just 12 years old when he invented the world’s first swim flippers? Kid Inventors’ Day, which coincides with Franklin’s birthday, was created to celebrate the achievements of the youngest inventors and encourage more children to be creative.
Children are born creative with a natural curiosity to question, explore and invent. They’re not yet aware of what’s possible and what’s not, allowing them to see things with fresh eyes and come up with limitless ideas.
While every child won’t go on to be the next greatest inventor, there are benefits to encouraging creativity in students. The ability to be creative promotes problem solving, flexible thinking and risk taking. And the benefits extend into adulthood as 60% of CEOs consider creativity to be one of the most important leadership qualities.
One way to foster creativity and innovation in students is through fun, hands-on STEM challenges! These challenges not only teach key STEM initiatives. They also require creativity and ingenuity as well as provide freedom for students to brainstorm and explore different solutions to the same problem.
Ready to tap into your students’ inner Ben Franklin? Explore complete STEM kits, like our ZOOB Challenge Kit, or try one of the STEM challenges below:
This activity challenges students to build a freestanding tower using only a few materials and no set instructions.
Materials (per group):
- 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti
- One yard of tape
- One yard of string or yarn
- One large marshmallow
- Divide students into groups of three or four and provide each group with one set of materials.
- Challenge students to use the provided materials to build a freestanding tower with the marshmallow supported at the top. (No extra materials will be provided.)
- Set the timer for 20 minutes. Optional: provide time checks throughout the duration of the project.
- Observe students’ teamwork, organizational skills, risk-taking abilities and creativity.
- Once time is up, measure each group’s tower. In order to win the challenge, the tower must be able to stand on its own.
- Once finished, discuss the challenges faced and the solutions created while building the towers.
Paper Plate Marble Maze
Inspired by pinball machines, this activity challenges students to create a paper plate marble maze game using a marble and a few craft supplies. The key is to allow students to be creative as they design ramps, tunnels and other cool structures for their marbles to go through.
- Paper plates (the ones with high edges)
- Construction paper
- Chenille stems/pipe cleaners
- If your students are not familiar with pinball machines, watch some YouTube videos together to see examples.
- Provide each student with one paper plate and access to various craft supplies.
- Let students get busy creating and testing out their pinball machines with marbles.
Index Card Chain
Do you think you can fit through a 3x5 index card? Considered part challenge and part magic, this activity challenges students to transform the card in a way that makes it possible.
- 3x5 index card
- Fold the index card in half lengthwise.
- Make two cuts, one on each end, starting from the folded edge. Don’t cut all the way up to the top in order to leave some at the edges still intact.
- Then turn the card over again and cut from the folded side to the non-folded side.
- Go back and forth like this until you have reached the last cut that you originally made. Remember to not cut all the way to the end or the chain will fall apart.
- Next, slide the scissor into the “loops” that you have made on the folded side. You will not be cutting the first or last loop so leave those out.
- Open up the index card and stretch it carefully to get the chain.
- Encourage students to try it over and over until they get it right!