I’ve been busy creating a series of STEM projects for students who are studying Medieval Times &/or Ancient Civilizations. Next stop, is the home of the Incans, Aztecs, and Mayans, featured here in the Mesoamerica STEM Activity Challenges!
Activity #1: Floating Gardens Challenge!
The Aztec built floating gardens by weaving sticks together to create a giant raft. Water canals surrounded the giant rafts. The canals enabled drainage of the wetland soil during seasonal rains. During the dry seasons, the water could infiltrate the floating gardens from the canals, the soil easily absorbing the water. These gardens were up to 300 feet long by 30 feet wide.
Here’s the Floating Gardens STEM Challenge:
In this Mesoamerica, STEM Activity teams of students must design and build floating gardens (chinampas). The STEM teams must test materials that can support the weight of a garden while floating in water. Their design must have soil, seeds (or plants), a bin filled with water, and floating devices for their garden. They must have at least 3 Chinampas in their design.(**scroll down to the bottom of the post for listed materials and guides!!)
Mesoamerica STEM Activity #2: The Aztec Calendar Coding Challenge!
The Aztec calendar stone was created by the Aztecs after the fall of Maya. In the center of the stone is their sun god, Tonatiuh. However, the calendar has a 365 day calendar cycle known as “xiuhpohualli” and a 260 day ritual cycle referred to as “tonalphualli”. Together they create a calendar round, forming a 52-year “century”.
Here’s the Calendar Coding STEM Challenge:
In this Mesoamerica STEM Activity, using a list of supplies, teams of students will first create a Mesoamerican calendar. First, on the calendar, students must decide on made-up symbols that represent letters of the alphabet. Second, they must create an answer key of their symbols that correlate with the letters A-Z. Third, their calendar will have a coded message. The message must be a prediction about the future and it must contain at least five words. Students can use different colored symbols to know how many letters each word contains in the sentence. Lastly, when multiple groups are finished, they can give their calendar codes to each other and try to guess what the other group’s message is.
Leanne Phillips says
hello, i WAS SUPER EXCIted when I came across your blog on stem activities when teaching mesoamerica. that is our first unit in social science for the 4th grade and we are struggling with how to teach this, how to find resources, and activities to go along with this unit. I am going to purchase the stem activities but was wondering if you would recommend any other resources that is kid and teacher friendly to teach this. this is a new unit for us so we are lost. Thank you!