A towering lesson about soil and erosion solidifies STEM skills

3 students working with sand tower science kit

Students in Susan Hilt’s second grade class at Stillwater Elementary School recently took on the Sand Towers Challenge, and their success was evidence of some solid STEM learning.

The students have been studying soils and erosion, and they recently used BOCES science kits to put their science, technology, engineering and math -STEM – knowledge to the test. For the Sand Towers Challenge, they had to work in teams to design, budget for and build ways to protect their sand towers from erosion and flood damage.

Each team had $100 total to buy trees (sponges), retaining walls (tongue depressors) and sandbags (cotton balls), for flood control. Grass (toothpicks) was also available but were not purchased by any teams. The students constructed flood barriers, then tested them by pouring pitchers of water into their trays.

All of the teams were successful: no towers fell. The sand tower challenge integrated STEM skills, teamwork, communication, creativity and curiosity. And it was fun, too.

students working with sand tower science kit

teacher with students at a table with science kit supplies

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