St. Patrick's Day STEM Activity - Get the Gold

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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
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30 pages
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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This St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge activity will have your students thinking critically for the best design to Get the Gold! Use simple materials - candy is not required!

The basic premise:

Working against criteria & constraints individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build one or more devices to transfer leprechaun gold from his pot to their own.


Note: This is the printable version. If you are in a 1:1 / paperless classroom, you will want to check out the digital option for use with GOOGLE SLIDES (TM)


If you have questions about which version is right for you, please feel free to leave me a question using the product Q&A below.


Resource includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges

- Materials and timing

- Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)

- Measuring results

- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts Post-design extension activities list

- Link to a video walk-through of the challenge

Student Handouts

- Criteria & Constraints List (in color and B&W; editable)

- Results and Design Analysis (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included in color and black & white; editable)

- Discussion Questions (color and B&W; editable)

Extension templates

- Write a Limerick

- Process Flow Map

- Math Extension options (Identifying even vs. odd numbers; using divisibility rules with 4-digit numbers; using divisibility rules with square roots and exponents (editable)

- Create-your-own word problems


This is one of five challenges available in the St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge bundle at a 40% discount!

This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!


Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)

• Pots of “gold” to test designs (1 per group or 1 whole-class)

• Pots: Halloween plastic cauldrons look the part, but any bowl will do.

• Gold: chocolate coins, Almond Hershey’s Kisses, Rolos, etc. (two or three bags should be plenty for the whole class)

• Alternate option: if you also did the “Guard the Gold” challenge, use student-made pots of gold.

• Pipe cleaners (5 - 10)

• String/yarn (12 24 in.)

• Tape (12 - 24 in.)

• Rubber bands (5 - 10)

• Scissors

• Bags to collect gold (1)

• Ruler/measuring tape

• Design analysis handouts (included)


• Craft sticks (5 – 10)

• Paperclips (10 – 20)

• Straws (5 – 10)

• Binder clips or clothespins (5)

• Bowls, cups, or coffee filters (1)

• Plastic spoons, knives, or forks

• Decoy/fool’s gold: crumpled yellow paper, cotton balls, etc.


Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:

- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning

- Helps students develop growth mindset traits like persistence and resilience

- High levels of student engagement

- The potential to hit upon all NGSS ETS standards depending on the depth and number of iterations you choose to implement in your classroom (modifications included)

- Highly flexible and differentiated for materials, timing, grade levels, and rigor.

Each design iteration should be planned for ~60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. If you add extension activities, you will need to adjust timing accordingly.


What do teachers have to say about this resource?

“This was such an interesting project to do with my students. I loved watching them come up with different ways to get the gold!”

“Awesome- loved using this with my second graders the planning/reflection sheets were awesome.”

“My class loved this activity! We used a balance scale and gram weights to weigh our "gold." Adding 100s, 10s, 5s, and 1s was perfect for 2nd graders. Just another variation to the multiple suggestions in the packet. Thanks!”

“Adapted a little bit and included religion with St. Patrick. Changed the candy to "counters" and am using positive/negative integers as well.”


You might also like these resources:


Christmas/Winter STEM Design Challenge: 5-in-1 Bundle

Late Winter STEM Bundle

Easter / Spring STEM Challenge Bundle

Valentine’s Day STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE


Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!


Video preview music credit:

"Carefree" Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Total Pages
30 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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