November 6, 2015

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge Events


Thanksgiving STEM Challenges provide engaging, meaningful, rigorous work that delight you and your students right up to the last minute before vacation!Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so it’s time to give thanks for holiday STEM challenges! 
This month, I have a new set of five challenges in store that, together, loosely follow the path of Pilgrims settling in America. These challenges comprise the Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle!


The Thanksgiving STEM challenge storyline is this:

  • If you are settling a new land, you must first find a way to get to that new land: 
Mini Mayflower.
  • Once there, you must find shelter: 
Protect-a-Pilgrim.*
  • You must next find/gather food: 
Pumpkin Picker.*
  • You must find/create a sustainable source of food: 
Corn Cultivator.
  • Once your basic needs are met, there is time for fun and entertainment: 
Turkey Transporter.

*Note: Although Pumpkin Picker and Corn Cultivator could be interchanged, the order suggested follows the logic that one has an immediate need for food, followed by a desire to sustain long-term.

Materials for all challenges were procured at the Dollar Tree except a large box of craft sticks (Michael’s) and a bag of candy pumpkins (CVS).

I recommend one challenge per day or week leading up to Thanksgiving, or even all challenges in one day-long pentathlon!  STEM challenges are always most beneficial when done in multiple iterations, but they can be treated as one-off activities as well.


A brief description of each challenge is available below; each challenge title is clickable and leads to its own post where you'll find a video walk through explaining the challenge in more detail.



Premise: Individually or in partners/groups, students design a ship for capacity and/or speed to travel from England to America.






















STEM Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.





Premise: Individually or in partners/groups, students design a shelter to protect Pilgrims from wind, rain, and snow.






STEM Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.








Premise: Individually or in partners/groups, students design a device to harvest pumpkins.



STEM Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.





Challenge 4:  Corn Cultivator



Premise: Individually or in partners/groups, students design one or more tools to cultivate corn (till, dig, plant, irrigate).


STEM Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.








Premise: Individually or in partners/groups, students design a device to transport a turkey.






STEM Basics:
  • Give the students a list of criteria and constraints to guide their designs.
  • Post-build, students test their designs and record and share results.
  • If desired, give time for related research and extension activities.
  • Provide time for a second iteration for students to apply learnings.





For more November ideas from some of my favorite bloggers, please visit more November Teacher Talk posts!