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Awesome STEM Activity – Constructing a Sturdy Plow for Snow or Gardening

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A creative STEM activity is always a favorite, especially the ones that use recyclables and Legos™! Warning, this activity is so much fun. As soon as your kids start building and testing, they are going to brainstorm ways to make the blade stronger. If you have snow on the ground when you do this, like we did, take your plow outside and try it out.

So, how did we get to this STEM activity? Well….

STEM Activity for kids, elementary age, middle school, or high school age. Build a snow plow and test different features. Who can make the strongest shovel? Who can make the best attachment mechanism. This is a super-easy, but FUN STEM challenge that uses common household or craft materials. Ideal for homeschool or classroom use #homeschool science #STEM


I’m always saving empty bathroom tissue rolls and paper towel rolls. We have a drawer full of them.

When we created this activity, snow was in the forecast. The day before it had been 80 degrees (winter in the southern US!), and we were all out in the garden boxes remediating the soil, which involved digging and moving (“plowing”) dirt.

So, that’s when the idea hit to try to do a STEM activity where the kids build a plow – either a snow plow or a plow to put on the front of a tractor to turnover a planting field.

STEM Activity – Learning About and Building a Plow

We did some research on plows before getting started. Below are links to videos and articles.

Please note that the video links are to SafeShare.tv which is a platform that allows you to watch a YouTube video without the ads to help filter out offensive content.

STEM Design Questions to Ask Before Building

STEM Activity for kids, elementary age, middle school, or high school age. Build a snow plow and test different features. Who can make the strongest shovel? Who can make the best attachment mechanism. This is a super-easy, but FUN STEM challenge that uses common household or craft materials. Ideal for homeschool or classroom use #homeschool science #STEM

Before starting to build, there are a few design questions to ask before building begins.

  • What problem are you trying to solve? (Where will they use their plow? What are the weather conditions? Road conditions?
  • What are some features you can add to your plow to be able to do the work?

When watching the snow plow videos linked above, we noticed how sturdy the bottom of the blades need to be, especially if there is heavy slush or ice that needs to be broken up. This extra reinforcement might be needed to push a heavier load or break up ice. To solve this problem, one of our plow blades was reinforced with masking tape to make the bottom of the blade sturdier for “icy conditions.”

STEM Activity – Building a Plow with Legos and Other Materials

STEM Activity for kids, elementary age, middle school, or high school age. Build a snow plow and test different features. Who can make the strongest shovel? Who can make the best attachment mechanism. This is a super-easy, but FUN STEM challenge that uses common household or craft materials. Ideal for homeschool or classroom use #homeschool science #STEM

In this STEM activity we used Legos™ to build the vehicle base for the plows, but you can use a toy car or truck.  Next, you’ll need to gather some materials to build and attach the plow. Empty cardboard rolls, index cards, poster board, or other pieces of cardboard can be used to try to construct the main plow.

Then, straws, Legos™ pieces, paper clips, tape, rubber bands, Lego rubber bands, string, twist ties, etc. can be handed out to try different ways to attach the plow to the vehicle.

STEM Activity – Building a Plow for Snow or Gardening

Creative STEM building activity using Legos and common materials to build a plow.

Keyword: STEM activity

Materials

  • Several Empty bathroom tissue rolls
  • Rubber bands, tape, scissors, straws, paper clips, etc.
  • Legos to build a vehicle or a toy truck
  • Any other matierials that might help build a plow

Instructions

Follow Up Questions and Activities

This was a super-fun activity! There are so many things to test and so many lessons learned. What we learned:

  • Reinforcement in building is important. The blades with the reinforced edges did so much better.
  • Taping the shovel onto the car held up better. The rubber band design didn’t transport well when we moved it from outside to inside or from the table to the floor.
  • The heavier our snow was, the more difficult it was to move snow. We tried making a plow from a thin plastic cup, but the blade bent too much. We are going to get heavy Solo cups and try again.

Make some fake snow to test the plows. You can find 3 very simple recipes here. (Link opens in new tab.)

Things to try and/or test:

  • How can you reinforce your plow? The vehicle?
  • Build a ramp, can you move the snow up and/or down the ramp?
  • What happens when you need to lift the plow attachment slightly off the ground? Is there a way to create a mechanism to slightly lift the blade and then keep it off the ground? (Hint: maybe with a rubber band attached to the blow and the Lego car?
  • How can you make your plow stronger?  (Maybe use a Solo cup cut to form a blade.)

Once you finish the plow STEM building activity, try our cargo ship building activity.

We tested it with “snow” and dirt. We used this snow product. (Which we used in this fake snow STEM activity.)

<center?STEM Activity for kids, elementary age, middle school, or high school age. Build a snow plow and test different features. Who can make the strongest shovel? Who can make the best attachment mechanism. This is a super-easy, but FUN STEM challenge that uses common household or craft materials. Ideal for homeschool or classroom use #homeschool science #STEM


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