Home Good Teaching The Pringles Challenge: A Fun-Filled STEM Activity

The Pringles Challenge: A Fun-Filled STEM Activity

by Peggy Reimers
STEM

Sometimes I really miss lesson planning. Well, maybe not the physical writing of lesson plans, but creating lessons for my students using a variety of educational frameworks: Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills, SAMR, the Four Cs, the ISTE Standards for Students, Bloom’s Taxonomy, or the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning.

Back in 1984 when I first started teaching, my main goal was to get my students to think and learn. Throughout my 24 years as a classroom teacher, my students and I froze our fingers making ice cream in Ziploc bags. We created and flew tissue paper hot-air balloons to catch the cool morning air. The Pedernales Electric Cooperative sent out a cherry picker (bucket) truck to drop raw eggs so my students could test out their egg catchers. My first and second graders researched dinosaurs and no one complained when the dino-cake I baked tasted freezer burned because Dinosaur Day was postponed two weeks when I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. With such a hodgepodge of activities, why not add Pringles to the mix?

The Pringles Challenge is a STEM activity and requires problem solving, imagination, creativity, and collaboration. It also covers many objectives and goals you’ll find in today’s frameworks. Because the thinking it requires is so high on Bloom’s Taxonomy, it fits in well with many different subject areas.

The task for the Pringles Challenge is pretty straightforward. Small groups of students design packaging which will transport a single Pringles potato chip from their school to another location, using the US Postal Service. You can find official rules and scoring guidelines on the Internet, but feel free to make the Pringles Challenge meet your classroom or campus needs.  If you need to save on shipping costs, try sending your packages to different libraries using your district’s mail system. To infuse technology into the activity, create a shared document to track the progress of the Pringles or have your students blog about their experience.

For my TCEA 2016 STEM presentation, four of my TCEA colleagues stepped up to the plate and took on the Pringles Challenge. Please check out their designs and final points awarded here.

Below are a few sites that you might find helpful:

 

If you decide 2016 is the year of the Pringles Challenge, I’d love to be on the receiving end of a bunch of potato chips. My address is 3100 Alvin Devane, Bldg. B, Austin, Texas 78741.

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