Free STEAM Challenges
These
challenges in a box are free to download and use to help school pupils enjoy
STEM subjects.
There
are separate pages for primary and secondary education.
Locally
in Coventry and Warwickshire we have:
 Pupil Challenge
Kits – 12 kits  sufficient resources for 8 teams of 4
 Speakers –
20 speakers presenting careers and hot topics.
 Inschool help with careers fairs, mock
interviews, pupil challenges, etc.
Derrick
Willer MBE
Volunteer
IET Schools Liaison Officer and STEM Ambassador
The IET Coventry and Warwickshire Network has developed
the following Challenges In A Box for school teachers to use to assist in
educating pupils of various ages. We are keen to have feedback and new ideas
for these challenges. Each challenge has teachers guides, visual aids and,
where relevant, pupil guides. Challenges In A Box are copyright. However you
are free to copy for use in schools and for instructing children of school age
and for use by children of school age. Please feedback to: Derrick Willer, derrick.willer@ietvolunteer.com
3 
Description 
Click the pictures to download 

Arithmetic
Bricks 
Sum Fun
with Arithmetic Bricks. Learn addition, subtraction, multiplication,
division, squares, pythagoras and Pi using bricks.
Suitable for ages 58. 

Sum
More Fun 
Sum Pi to
Chew Over. Sum Prime Numbers. Suitable for ages 58. 
^{}^{} 

Flight 
A paper
based exercise helping 513 year olds to understand flight. There are
different planes to be made and different wing arrangements demonstrate how
lift affects flight – canard versus tailplane, etc. (30 mins) 

Why
Lag Your House? 
A simple
card based exercise for younger pupils to learn how insulating your home can
improve heating and save on energy. Suitable for pupils aged 513. (60 mins) 

Bridges 
A paper
based exercise suitable for 713 year old pupils.
Pupils make a bridge out of
paper into a U" shape
and find out how much weight (pennies or model cars) it
will take with different depths of the "U" versus the remaining
area for the bridge. They graph the results.
The project is then
extended to bridge
the gap between
two chairs with
paper, sticky tape, etc. costing
them "money" – e.g. cheapest to hold a 100gm weight wins. (30 mins) 

Burglar
Alarm Primary 
An
introduction to electrical circuits for Primary School pupils, KS2, using low
cost materials. About 3060 minutes as individuals or small teams. 

House
Of Gadgets 
For 9 
13 year olds. An exercise to understand sustainability and conservation.
Pupils imagine what will happen if rubbish is not collected. Then there is a
short story about conservation. The pupils decide on a gadget to make and are
given recycled materials to make a mockup of it. (2½3 hours) 

Singing
Maths 
Suitable
for 58 year olds, these include Sum Fun with Jack And Jill, Grand Old Duke
of York, and Contrary Mary 

Sail A
Matchbox 
Make a
boat out of a matchbox and pencils and sail it with a handheld fan 

Spectroscopy 
Make a
spectroscope out of cardboard box and a CD. Approx. 30 minutes. Suitable for
Primary Schools 

Towers
and Bridges Out Of Sweeties 
Primary challenge, approx. 2040 minutes.
Make a Tower or Bridge out of either Marsh Mallows and Straws or Jelly Beans
and Toothpicks 

Paper
Towers And Bridges 
Versions
for Primary and Secondary Schools. Approx. 30 – 60 minutes. Secondary school
pupils in teams are judged on design, budgets, actual spend, and
presentations. 

STEM
Quiz 
24
questions to tease the pupils, teachers and STEM Ambassadors complete with
"Wrong" with explanation and the correct answers 

Paper
Catapult Primary 
A version
of the secondary school challenge for primary school pupils where the design
is limited and a recommended design is used. 

Primary
Quick Challenges 
Five sets
of 13 (Baker’s Dozen) challenges each taking 510 minutes. 

Table
Tennis Ball Launcher 
An IET
Education challenge. We have 12 kits available for use in schools in Coventry
and Warwickshire. (30 mins for basic launcher kit – up to 1½ hours for loader
for the launcher made from recycled materials provided by the school) Email
Derrick Willer dwiller@theiet.org for availability. 

Lets
Crumble 
Learn how
to programme the Crumble computer. Then make a nightlight or automated
moneybox using the Crumble kit and recycled materials. There are further
challenges for traffic lights, car and maze, robot. Developed by DATA with
grant aid from IET, IMencE and RAE 

Polyalphabetic
Coding 
How
to Code and Decode using your Birthdate so you can send secret messages. KS2
and KS3. About 3060 minutes as individuals or small teams. 

BBC
Microbit Traffic Lights 
Using the
new BBC Microbit and Python code to manage a single traffic light, then a
Cross Roads set, finally to make the traffic lights using recycled materials.
The problem to solve (with an answer) is that there are four states for the
Cross Road Traffic Lights and only three outputs from the BBC Microbit. The
example uses a relay to turn off green lights when the yellow ones are on. 

Gravity
Egg Drop 
Using raw
eggs the teams have to make a cradle to hold the egg and protect the egg when
it is dropped from height. For younger ones you may want to use boiled eggs.
Teams should consider safety, strength, crumple zone, what happens if the
cradle turns upsidedown, etc. 

Levers
and Pulleys 
Levers
with up to ten to one mechanical advantage, and visa
versa. One to four pulleys with up to fourtoone mechanical advantage. 

Density 
Several
samples to weigh and measure their volume using a graduated testtube or jug.
Plus you can add your own samples – maybe pebble, concrete, plastic, potato,
carrot, cheese 

Car
Crash 
An
exercise to discover that cars have crumple zones to keep passengers safe
from crashes. The
pupils are asked to construct a car from available materials and work out how
to protect the passengers and also have crumple zones front and back. 

Make
a Thermometer 
Make a thermometer out of a drinks bottle, a straw, alcohol and water. 

Animals in Danger 
Ten examples of endangered animals. What are they? Where do they live?
What do the eat? And What is the danger? 

Make a Barometer 
Make a barometer using a jam jar and a record on graph paper 

Measure Wind Speed 
Make an anemometer and measure wind speed. Compare to weather
forecasts to obtain a conversion factor between revolutions per minute and
published wind speed. 

The Water Cycle 
An experiment to show the water cycle – evaporation and condensation. 

Funny
Maths 
Exploring
some unusual arithmetic, geometry, etc. used by ourselves and, maybe, aliens.
Including Thales Theorem, Hippocrates of Chios, Mesolabe
Compass, multiplying using your hands and unusual multiplication by some
earlier humans. Years 5 and 6. 

Gaia 
Gaia is the idea that living organisms on a planet will affect the nature
of their environment. Can the pupils list some of the problems and their
possible solutions? 

More Funny Maths 
Triangles, marbles, weighing, always 1089, letters represent numbers,
odd x even = ? and more 

Vinegar Rocket 
Make a rocket from a plastic bottle using vinegar and baking soda. 

Even More Funny Maths 
Apples and bags, twins? Ladder and tide, Hare and tortoise, Polar
Bear. Alien money, and more 

Tricky Logic 
Ten questions where the logic may not be obvious. 

More Tricky Logic 
Ten more questions where the logic may not be obvious. 

Compressed Air Car 
Make a model car from recycled materials and use compressed air to
race it cross the playground 

The
IET Coventry and Warwickshire Network has developed the following
Challenges In A Box for school teachers to use to assist in educating pupils of
various ages. We are keen to have feedback and new ideas for these challenges.
Each challenge has teachers guides, visual aids and, where relevant, pupil
guides. Challenges In A Box are copyright. However you are free to copy for use
in schools and for instructing children of school age and for use by children
of school age. Please feedback to: Derrick Willer, derrick.willer@ietvolunteer.com
Project 
Description 
Click the pictures to download 

Burglar Alarm Secondary 
An introduction to electrical circuits
using low cost materials. About 3060 minutes as individuals or small teams.
I used this for a KS3 STEM Club (1214 year olds) giving them a set of the
same materials and challenging them to make the burglar alarm without any
guidance whatsoever. Not even the concept of a trip wire. 

Paper Catapult 
Pupils in small teams are asked to
design, budget and then make a catapult out of recycled paper. Recycled
materials are free but nuts, bolts, elastic bands, stickytape, etc. cost
money. They catapult a ball at a set of skittles three times, scoring a
maximum of 89 points. Additional scores depend upon the accuracy of their
budget and the innovative nature of their design. Suitable for pupils aged
1015. (2½ hours) 

Replacing The Family Car 
Pupils should investigate the wholelife
carbon footprint of a car using the internet. They should draw graphs
piecharts, etc. comparing buying a new car versus keeping the old one.
Internet research, spreadsheets, etc. can be used and make this relevant to
the challenge subject. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (Homework, 4+ hours) 

Hydrogen As A Fuel 
Hydrogen powered cars, etc. are already
working at Birmingham and other universities. Pupils make hydrogen and oxygen
and test them. They are then asked to work out the best place to make
hydrogen using sunlight. They should work out the costs of transporting from
source to point of use  including compressing/liquefying the gas. Internet
research, graphs, spreadsheets, etc. can be used and make this relevant to
the challenge subject. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (Inschool experiment,
30 mins, Homework 4+ hours) 

Fan or Turbine Efficiency 
Pupils should make a fan and work out
its efficiency at various blade angles and numbers. A Design Council Project
finalist utilised a boat propelled by the
fan pulling against
a weight suspended over a pulley. But pupils can use any other method. Project report with
graphs, etc is required. Graphs,
spreadsheets, etc. can be used and make this
relevant to the challenge subject. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (12+
hours) 

Card Tricks 
What are the maths behind these three
card tricks? Pupils can work alone or in small groups to discover how these
card tricks work. Suitable for homework or for 4560 minutes sessions.
Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (4560 mins) 

Secondary School Quick Challenges 
Sets of 13 (Baker’s Dozen) challenges
each taking 510 minutes. 

Robot Challenge 
This project challenges teams to build
a model robot from K’nex kits. Meccano or other
construction kits. It is aimed at pupils ages 10 to 14 (years
5 to 9). The project could also be used to introduce primary school pupils to
their secondary school with "mentors" for each team from the
secondary school. It was first developed and run at
Jaguar Cars Visitor’s facility at Castle Vale, Birmingham, with some 150
thirteen year old school pupils in teams of six. (1½ hours +) In the lunch
period we were entertained by Prof. Carl Chinn MBE, the famous Birmingham
local radio celebrity with some of the pupils and some teachers being
interviewed on BBC West Midlands Radio. We are indebted to Jaguar Cars and BBC West Midlands Radio and Prof. Carl Chinn MBE for their valued assistance. 


Introduction To Computer
Programming 
Utilising the Basic programming
language, pupils learn now to write and test a
program initially to add, then to subtract, multiply and divide two numbers.
Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (1 hour +) 

Code and Decode 
This project is aimed at learning more
about programming by developing a computer program to code and decode a
message. Pupils will be able secretly to send a coded text document attached
to an email to a friend who, when given the correct key, will be able to
decode the message in the text document. Alternatively they can save secret
data in coded format. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. (1½ hours +) 

Prime Numbers 
This project is aimed at learning about
programming by developing a computer program to test if a number is prime and
then to extend this to list all prime numbers up to a given number. Suitable
for pupils aged 1216. (1 hour + ) 

Pythagorean Triangles 
We all know that a 3,4,5 triangle is a
right angled triangle, a Pythagorean Triangle. In this project pupils write a
computer program to discover other wholenumber Pythagorean Triangles up to a
given length of the shortest side. Suitable for pupils aged 1216. 


Fun With Phiziks
and Che Mystery 
Ten activities including Fizzy
Chemistry, Make a Thermometer, Magnifying Glass, Bending Water, Speed even
though you are sitting still, Oxygenetics, Mento®
Fountain, Why is Statue of Liberty Blue, Acceleration, Plastic Milk 

BBC Micro:bit
Traffic Lights 
Using the new BBC Microbit and Python
code to manage a single traffic light, then a Cross Roads set, finally to
make the traffic lights using recycled materials. The problem to solve (with
an answer) is that there are four states for the Cross Road Traffic Lights
and only three outputs from the BBC Microbit. The example uses a relay to
turn off green lights when the yellow ones are on. 


Funny Maths 
Exploring some unusual arithmetic,
geometry, etc. used by ourselves and maybe, aliens. Using Thales Theorem,
Hippocrates of Chios, Mesolab Compass, multiplying using your hands and unusual
multiplication by some other races. 

The Safety Deposit Vault 
This project is based
on a real spreadsheet for a company in Birmingham. The spreadsheet is
complex and must be mail merged with invoices and overdue letters in a
wordprocessor. Suitable for pupils aged 1418. There is a model answer. An
extension is to utilise a database such as MS Access  this is very relevant
to the challenge subject. (1 hour + ) 

Microsoft Access Tutorial My
Holiday Home 
This
tutorial provides detailed instructions on creating a Microsoft Access database
using an example that manages the lettings of a holiday villa in France or
Spain. It
will provide students with an indepth understanding of MS Acess and an ability to design and construct their own
databases to benefit themselves and their employers. Each
stage is detailed in minute detail
to guide the student through to a completed database. The tutorial starts with creating the database, adding
Tables for customer Names and Bookings.
Then Queries to enable us to combine tables and sort into sequence. Students
can proceed at their own pace but the typical minimum time for the entire
tutorial is of the order of six to eight hours, however some can be completed
as "homework". The tutorial requires downloading Microsoft Access
2013 or later versions. 

Tricky Mathematics 
20 Maths questions to confuse the
pupils, teachers and STEM Ambassadors 

Careers Presentation 
Derrick Willer MBE summarises his
career working as an engineer in many countries across the world. He then
leads the pupils to prepare a bid for funding for his son’s IET Award winning
project Track Safe, using the animation at www.smartrailroad.com to describe the project which involves
sensors, radar, RFID, software and computer systems. (3060 mins). 


More Funny Maths 
Triangles, marbles, weighing,
always 1089, letters represent numbers, odd x even = ? and more 

Gravity Egg Drop 
Using raw eggs the teams have to make
a cradle to hold the egg and protect the egg when it is dropped from height.
For younger ones you may want to use boiled eggs. Teams should consider
safety, strength, crumple zone, what happens if the cradle turns upsidedown,
etc. 

Levers and Pulleys 
Levers with up to ten to one
mechanical advantage, and visa versa. One to four
pulleys with up to fourtoone mechanical advantage. 

Density 
Several samples to weigh and measure
their volume using a graduated testtube or jug. Plus you can add your own
samples – maybe pebble, concrete, plastic, potato, carrot, cheese 

Even More Funny Maths 
Apples and bags, twins? Ladder and
tide, Hare and tortoise, Polar Bear. Alien money, and more 

Car Crash 
An exercise to discover that cars have
crumple zones to keep passengers safe from crashes. The pupils are asked to construct a
car from available materials and work out how to protect the passengers and
also have crumple zones front and back. 

STEM Quiz 
24 questions to tease the pupils,
teachers and STEM Ambassadors complete with "Wrong" with
explanation and the correct answers 

More Tricky Maths 
More Maths questions to confuse the
pupils, teachers and STEM Ambassadors 

Compressed Air Car 
Make a model car
from recycled materials and use compressed air to race it cross the
playground 

Tricky Logic 
Ten questions where
the logic may not be obvious. 

More Tricky Logic 
Ten more questions where
the logic may not be obvious. 

Solve an XXX Division Sum 
You have a division sum where crosses
represent numbers and just a few actual numbers are shown. Can you solve the
sum? 