Hexbug Challenge

By Suchira Channoi

Subject: Science, Math
Grade Level: PK
Standards: MA STE, Math & ELA (Common Core)

After exploring the chaotic movements of ‘hexbugs,’ small mechanical robotic bugs, alongside blocks and other materials in the classroom, the children naturally wondered if they could guide the hexbugs to a location.

In this lesson, students are challenged to control the movement and direction of hexbugs without touching them and guide them to a chosen location using materials of their choice.

MA STE, Math & ELA Standards

PreK-PS2-1(MA). Using evidence, discuss ideas about what is making something move the way it does and how some movements can be controlled.


  1. Describe and compare measurable attributes.
  2. Recognize the

attributes of length, area, weight, and capacity of everyday objects using

appropriate vocabulary (e.g., long, short, tall, heavy, light, big, small,

wide, narrow).

English Language Arts/Literacy Standards

SL.PK.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners during daily routines and play.

SL.PK.1.a Observe and use appropriate ways of interacting in a group (e.g., taking turns in talking, listening to peers, waiting to speak until another person is finished talking, asking questions and waiting for an answer, gaining the floor in appropriate ways).

SL.PK.5 Create representations of experiences or stories (e.g., drawings, constructions with blocks or other materials, clay models) and explain them to others.

SL.PK.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Imagining the Invisible

By Tom Young

Subject: Physics
Grade Level: 9-12
Standards:  MA STE & ELA (Common Core)

You are in residency as diagnostic radiologists. When you meet one of your first patients, you find that they are extremely hesitant to undergo any type of medical imaging. Even after telling the patient that you cannot treat them without first taking images, they tell you that they do not know enough about the technology to go on with treatment.

Choose one of the following patients:

●      Charlie – a 5 year old child who fell off of a playset and is complaining to his mother about pain in his forearm, which is very swollen and not very straight.

●      Megan – a 17 year old who got hit playing lacrosse and can no longer stand on her right knee. She has injured her MCL before.

●      Sarania – a woman who is 4 months pregnant presents with consistent abdominal pain.

●      Ronin – a 74 year old man who you strongly suspect to have hyperthyroidism

Determine which type of Medical Imaging Technology is appropriate to diagnose the patient that you chose. Then, you must explain to the patient how the technology works, how safe it is, and why it is necessary to proceed with treatment of their condition.

STE & ELA Standards

HS-PS4-5. Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy.*

Practice: Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


Introduce a topic and organize ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aid comprehension.  

Shakey Cakey Makey Breaky!

Subject: Physics, Art
Grade Level: 11-12
Standards:  MA STE, Art & ELA (Common Core)

By Richard Cohen

Over the weekend, my daughter and I made a cake to take to a family party. It was moist, yummy and looked beautiful. But one problem arose… We lived an hour away from the party and on the ride there, the cake shifted and fell apart. What a mess!

We frantically tried to fix it but all of our efforts were for nothing. It was a disaster. If only we had something that could store a cake and protect it during the stop and go of a car ride. Hmmmmm?

Your task is to design, build and test a device to protect a cake. Well, a cupcake to start with. The test will happen on one of my robots as it journeys around the room. There will be stops and starts, inclines and declines and the winning design will preserve the integrity of the cupcake best.

STE, ELA & Art Standards 

HS-PS2-3. Apply scientific principles of motion and momentum to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.*

HS-PS2-2. Use mathematical representations to show that the total momentum of a system of interacting objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system. 

RCA-ST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words. 

Art: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. Describe how decisions about how a media artwork is presented are connected to what the student wants to express, evoke, or communicate. (F.MA.P.06)

Cacophonous Conundrums

Subject:  Science, Tech/Eng, Music
Grade Level: 6
Standards: MA STE, Music & ELA (Common Core)

By Lee Burgess

It’s the year 2035 and you’re beginning your first day of the new semester as an in-school symphony educator. As part of your duties as a full-time Springfield Symphony member, you are assigned to a local middle school to begin teaching and mentoring beginning musicians.

On your first day, you realize a major problem: Your students are playing consistently with no sense of intonation (being in-tune). You will get together with 2 of your fellow symphony teaching artists (classmates) and develop 1 to 3 reproducible remedies for intonation. By the end of this project, you will be able to perform your first five notes in tune, perform as a trio a simple tune, and present the remedy you developed for superior intonation.


STE, ELA & Music Standards

6.MS-PS4-1. Use diagrams of a simple wave to explain that (a) a wave has a repeating pattern with a specific amplitude, frequency, and wavelength, and (b) the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy of the wave.

3.3-5-ETS1-2. Generate several possible solutions to a given design problem. Compare each solution based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the design problem.*

WCA-6-8.9 Draw evidence from informational texts (and scientific tools) to support analysis, interpretation, reflection, and research

Music 6th Grade: Performing-5. Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Cacophonous Conundrums banner Subject: Science,Music,STEM Grade Level: 6 Standards: MA STE, Music & ELA (Common Core)