First Americans STEM Design Challenge - Teach the Engineering Design Process

Grade Levels
3rd - 8th
Formats Included
  • PDF (43 pages)
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  1. This bundle has two great resources which lead students through an engaging STEM design challenge and also teach essential Social Studies content. For the STEM challenge, each group chooses a climate card and a lifestyle card, and then must build a shelter to match both. So, they might need to buil
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This engaging resource will give your students a fun STEM challenge while teaching them essential Science and Math content. It is NOT a build-a-tepee project! Each group chooses a climate card and a lifestyle card, and then must build a shelter to match both. So, they might need to build a shelter using the natural resources of a tropical climate for a nomadic lifestyle. Maybe they will draw an arid climate and a permanent lifestyle and need to build a suitable shelter. Every project will be different. The projects are graded on how well they meet the constraints and criteria, making this a true STEM project.

The resource includes everything you need to make the project work. You get:

1. a Suggested Schedule (two weeks)

2. High quality maps and photos for a Gallery Walk

3. Student materials, including The Challenge Explanation, Engineering Design posters, Note taking pages and Budget sheet

4. Climate and Lifestyle cards

5. Group materials, including The Climate Design Challenge Packet to guide the process, Climate Research Cards, Building Materials Pros and Cons and Climate Resource Lists

6. Habits of Mind Self-Assessment

7. Individual Reflection sheets to show individual learning

8. A Rubric

Everything you need is included. For pictures of this project in action, check out my blog post at

Just print and teach!


For great resources to connect Social Studies content to this project, check out:

The First Americans - a Differentiated text about the land bridge and the First Americans

The Salmon People - Tribes of the Pacific Northwest - a Differentiated Text and Activities

For more Science fun and learning, be sure to check out:

Everything Matters Escape Room - an adventure about the three states of matter

Everything Matters Close Reading, Crossword and Word Search bundle

Planet Pangaea - a close reading about Plate Tectonics

Earthquake - a Core Content unit with non-fiction texts and vocabulary instruction

Down to Earth - a differentiated biography about Neil Armstrong


Check out my blog at MsCotton' for exclusive freebies, insights and content to grow your teaching!


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Total Pages
43 pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
2 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.


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