Ancient Civ STEM? Yes!

How can you teach current STEM concepts to students who are studying ancient civilizations? Look no further!!


During the third quarter my students took a global trip to study ancient civilizations, their similarities and differences, technology usage, human and environmental interactions, and changes over time. My students were quite engaged in their learning by researching five different civilizations and producing self choice projects based upon multiple intelligences. Throughout the research phases, I provided STEM challenge projects for them to complete. Talk about the FUN factor! My kids LOVE creating, collaborating, communicating, and critically thinking about solving the problem at hand.


There were several STEM projects my students could engage, but due to time constraints, we focused on just a few.


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The Great Wall of China

I gave students a variety of materials such as straws, popsicle sticks, string, tape, and paper clips. Their task was to build a wall that was at least twelve inches tall and six inches wide. The wall had to withstand an enemy intruder. Students worked in partner teams to create their wall, and then we tested each wall, while ensuring the variables were stable. SUCCESS!!!


The kids built upon their learning from a prior structure unit and knew about the magic number 3. They are sooo much better about planning their project before just jumping in, which was the case last year. Now, they are nearly experts at planning how to use their materials, designing a plan, and bringing that plan to reality. It was also fun to hear them use engineering vocabulary during the planning, construction, and testing phases.


STEM, technology, ancient civilization, holiday STEM
Students engaged in the design stage of this STEM challenge.

This is an example of the multiple intelligence based project options that I developed based upon the book below.

Great resource for advancing learning.


Chopsticks and Sweethearts

This was a fun activity to tie into Valentine’s Day. On your mark . . . get set . . . go!


Students had to use chopsticks to build a sweetheart candy tower – the trick, they only they had 2 minutes to build. Besides speed, balance, and chop stick fingering technique, students also monitored heart stacking while the towers were being built. It was interesting that most students opted for a two hand chopstick tool, compared to the one handed eating chopstick utensil. I think they need more practice at using chopsticks like the pros in China. To make certain both students had a job, the partner not engaged in building could ONLY assist with words of affirmation. This was a WIN-WIN!



To continue the fun, once students were done with heart towers, it was time to eat the sweethearts. You’ll notice in the pictures students had to place a heart on their forehead and maneuver it down to their mouth without using their hands. Talk about comical. This was a great and fun activity to end our sweetheart challenges.


Chopsticks for STEM

Candy sweethearts!


Between student choice projects and school events, we didn’t have a chance to complete each of the STEM projects I wanted to complete. Here are a few others that are great ancient civilization learning opportunities.


Chariot Races

I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to engage in designing a chariot and use this with the spheros on order, but our spheros didn’t arrive in time for this STEM project to be completed.

Spheros to teach computer science.



These are great machines to build with a variety of items and see how far the machines can launch projectiles. Who wouldn’t love this fun project. Due to some weather challenges, this project didn’t get launched this year.


STEM learning kits


If you’re looking for some STEM projects to do with your kiddos, check out these two resources from Carson-Dellosa. These are a variety of STEM projects based upon seasons and science categories. Plus, there are a variety of extension lessons for each STEM project.


Whether you are learning about ancient civilizations, exploring the last frontier, or launching into space, STEM projects are excellent learning opportunities for students to develop skills in communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for more than 30 years working in the PK-6 elementary classroom, K-12 multi-language learner instructional specialist, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jane

    What a creative idea Annette. It’s engaging and makes the student more creative. The Great Wall of China is a good one because it involves history and sparks ideas on visiting this place one day (when they grow up)!

    1. User Avatar
      Annette Durbin

      Yes!!! Exactly!! I hope to plant some seeds to engage students in more questioning and research. When the kiddos can actually go to one of these places, they have some idea about the event, and are ready to add more knowledge.

      Thanks for stopping by,

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