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

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13 Ratings
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
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20 pages
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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Need a St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge activity that your students will love but is more than just a craft or activity to pass the time?

The basic premise:

For leprechauns, life is a constant struggle to protect their pot of gold from treasure hunters and keep from getting caught themselves!

Working against criteria & constraints individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build one or more devices to help a leprechaun guard his pot of gold from thieves.


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 instead.

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)

- Leprechaun Lore List (color and black & white; editable)

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

Extension templates

- Process Flow Map

- Writing Templates

- Rainbow Research Log (editable)

- Math Extension (editable)


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.)

• For each student or group:

– Gold chocolate coins (5 – 10)

• Almond Hershey’s Kisses or Rolos are a good alternate – easier to find and often less expensive

– Small cups, bowls, or coffee filters (1 – 3)

– Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)

– String/yarn (24 – 36 in.)

– Shoeboxes and/or cardboard scraps (distributed evenly among groups)

– Craft sticks (5 – 10)

– Tape (12 – 24 in.)

– Rubber bands (5 – 10)

– Scissors

– Second-timer

– Design analysis handouts (included)

– Leprechaun Lore List (included)


• Plastic baggies (1 – 2)

• Clothespins (2 – 4)

• Paperclips (10 – 20)

• Straws (5 – 10)

• Toothpicks (10 – 20)

• Brass brads/fasteners (2 – 4)

• Single hole-punch


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?

"My students did an amazing job, and this resource was easy for them to understand.”


"Excellent resource!"

“So much fun!”


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
20 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.


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