5-Minute Challenge (STEM Activity)

This was such a fun activity we did at the end of this school year! I had a version for in-school students and distance learners. The activity started with me reading the book Five Minutes (That’s a lot of time) (No, It’s not) (Yes, It is) by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, Illustrated by Olivier Tallec.

I followed the book with a discussion on when five minutes seems like a long time and when they think it is a short time. I did this lesson with Kindergarten through Third grade so the answers varied quite a bit. One of the funny answers was that listening to the story felt like a long time (it took 5 minutes to read the story).

Next, I explained the instructions. For in-person students we were using Keva Planks, but for my distance learners, I gave them a list of possible materials to find around their house to build with.

For in person students, I gave them the first 5 minutes as a free for all building time to come up with whatever they created. We talked about it afterward and discussed the activity using these questions:

  • Did it seem like the 5 minutes went by fast or slow? Why did it seem like that?
  • How did you feel while you were building your design?
  • What elements of your design do you think would change if you had more time? What about less time?

After the first 5-minute challenge, I added specific challenges that the students had to try to do in five minutes. They worked in pairs on the challenges. Examples included: Build a bridge, build a vehicle, build the tallest tower you can build without falling down, build a house, build something with all the blocks. Here are some great examples of the students’ creations!

The distance learners submitted videos of their projects through Flipgrid. They were able to show me their project and tell me some of their answers to the questions and describe what they built. Here are some of the creations distance learners came up with using materials they had at their houses!