This penny spinner STEM challenge will encourage children to use their imagination and creativity to see how to make a paper plate spin!
We love STEM challenges in our house. I enjoy providing the children with a ‘what if’ or ‘how could we’, and then seeing where their imagination and creativity takes them.
This was a bit of a more focused STEM challenge that our usual open-ended ones. Exploring with paper, a penny, and a pair of scissors, we learned how to make a paper plate spin!
Penny Spinner STEM Challenge
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. A STEM challenge takes these focuses and offers a challenge where children try to troubleshoot or figure out what they need to do to reach the goal of the challenge.
In this penny spinner STEM challenge, I asked the kids how they could use a penny to make a paper plate spin using a penny!
Some of their early predictions were to place the penny under the paper plate and spin the paper on top of the penny, to weigh the paper plate down with the penny and spin it, and to place the penny through it and spin the paper.
Which one worked?
To set up the penny spinner STEM challenge you will need:
To do the penny spinner STEM challenge:
Use a small paper plate, similar to a dessert plate to make this easier to do with small children. If you only have large paper plates, simply cut out a smaller circle from the plate.
Provide children with the materials needed and allow them to color their plate if they like, letting them know that as the plate spins all of the colors will merge together and create a rainbow effect.
The children tested their predictions, those who placed the penny on top found that the plate didn’t spin, those with the penny under the plate found that the plate spun off of the penny, and those with the penny placed through the middle of the plate found that their penny spinner worked!
Once they discovered that placing the penny through the plate allowed them to create a spinner, they got to work perfecting and decorating their spinners!
See how to make the penny spinner if you want to do this as a craft instead:
Trace around the outside of a cup on a paper plate using the pen to make a circle.
Cut out the circle.
Use a ruler to find the center of the circle and mark it with a pen.
Place the ruler on the center of the circle and draw a line to create halves.
Turn the circle and draw another line across the circle to create quarters.
Draw two more lines through the center of each quarter to create eighths.
Use the markers to color each eighth or draw patterns in each section.
Cut a slit in the center of the circle slightly smaller than a penny.
Push the penny through the slit.
Holding the penny between your fingers, spin the penny spinner on a flat surface.