The image text reads, "end-of-year student awards." The image shows a certificate for the "Most Valuable Player" and a DIY trophy showing a foil figure sitting on top of a cup wrapped in foil with a crown on its head and the caption reads "most valuable player."

Creative and Unique End-of-Year Student Awards for Middle School

By Trilby Hillenbrand

The weather’s getting warmer, and everyone’s counting down the days until summer! End-of-year awards are a great way to close out the school year and celebrate your student’s achievements and hard work throughout the school year. However, this year, imagine a twist on the student awards format that celebrates your students and sparks creativity and engagement on those last few days of school that can feel like they drag on forever… Enter the end-of-year student awards STEM challenge! This fun project allows students to take the reins and design custom awards for their peers. They can infuse their unique personalities while learning and having fun. 

This image text reads, "End-of-year Student Awards." The image shows 3 DIY trophies and student award certificates.

The Purpose of the STEM Awards Challenge

The last few days of school can be challenging… You’ve got a long checklist of things to complete, and your students are checked out. Planning a student awards STEM challenge can help you sail through the last few days of school while keeping your students engaged and learning until the last bell rings. Closing out the year with a student awards celebration also helps boost student self-esteem, promotes positive behavior, encourages and motivates students, and builds community and camaraderie. It’s a win-win!

Why you should plan a student awards STEM challenge:

  • You’ll celebrate student accomplishments and successes as you wrap up the school year.
  • It’ll help maintain a positive classroom community through your last days of school. 
  • You can use up extra supplies in your cabinets, so you don’t have to store them for the summer.
  • Plan this fun challenge for days when you have unusual schedules or low attendance due to field trips, testing, assemblies, or other interruptions. 
  • Give your students practice with problem-solving using the engineering design process. 
  • Allow students to develop their 21st-century skills, such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
This image shows a DIY award certificate and trophy titled "Star STEM Student."

How-To Plan a Student Awards STEM Challenge

1. Introduce the STEM Challenge

Tell students they are creating custom awards and trophies to celebrate their peers. Give them guidelines for creating their awards, such as:

  • Will the awards relate to your class content? 
  • Should they align with school values? 
  • How will students qualify to win each award? 
  • What supplies can they use to build their trophies? 
  • When are the awards and trophies due?
  • Will they work independently or on a team?

Share that the awards will be used to recognize their peers for their accomplishments and positive class contributions throughout the year.

2. Brainstorm Award Ideas

Have students brainstorm ideas for their awards. Be sure to review the final award ideas and ensure the awards are appropriate and kind before students continue developing their awards and trophies. 

3. Create Awards and Trophies.

Have students create a poster describing their award and a trophy that matches the theme of their award. These will be on display for the class during the next portion of the activity, and the winners will take them home after the awards ceremony. Cups, foil, wooden craft sticks, straws, pipe cleaners, construction paper, and art supplies are great materials for assembling trophies. However, you can be flexible with whatever you have on hand.

4. View Awards and Nominate Winners.

Students participate in a gallery walk to view all of the custom awards and trophies. Post a class list, so students can nominate their peers to win each award. Provide a recording sheet or slips of paper that students can use to record their nominations. Afterward, the teacher can tally the nominations and determine the winner of each award.

5. Host an Awards Ceremony.

This is the culminating event for the student awards STEM challenge. Consider adding some festive elements to the ceremony, such as announcing the award winners with a microphone, having an award show backdrop projected at the front of the room, or adding a bubble machine. Pump up each award and the winner for a fun end-of-year celebration. Award winners can take home their unique awards as a token to remember the school year.

This image shows 3 DIY awards and trophies, including "Code Master," "Star STEM Student," and "Most Valuable Player."

Inspiring Creativity and Innovation in Education

The power of recognition and celebration knows no bounds. From the thrill of brainstorming creative award ideas to the satisfaction of crafting personalized trophies, this project will be one your students remember long after the school year is over. Not only will you celebrate your students’ achievements, but you’ll nurture a culture of positivity, collaboration, and self-belief among students. 

Looking for More Support Planning your End-of-Year Awards? 

Grab this ready-to-go STEM challenge with everything you need to keep your students learning while you close out the school year. First, students will create a custom award and identify the award criteria. They’ll describe their award on a poster. Next, they will use the engineering design process to design and build a trophy that matches the theme of their award. Then students will view all the awards and nominate their peers to win.

With detailed teacher notes, engaging student worksheets, a lesson slideshow, embedded background research, a grading rubric, and end-of-project certificates included, you only need to make copies and grab the materials from your cabinets to get started.

Grab this resource today so that you can check planning off your end-of-year to-do list and know your students will still be learning and having fun!

Buy it on TPT

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