Summer STEM End of the Year Activity Challenge - Pick and Pack

Rated 4.86 out of 5, based on 106 reviews
106 Ratings
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
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50 pages
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
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This summer STEM challenge activity is the perfect end of year activity to keep your students engaged through the very last day of school!

The basic premise:

Individually or in partners, students will select items to pack for a road trip. In this 2-D simulation of a 3-D task, students arrange items with different point values into pre-defined car trunk spaces. They can’t have it all, though! They’ll use a criteria & constraints list to bring all of what they need and some of what they want, as they aim for the highest point value.


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 STEM Challenge How-To Videos
  • Materials and timing
  • Criteria & Constraints (including modifications to increase difficulty for older students)
  • Measuring results
  • Post-design extension activities list
  • Link to a video walk-through of the challenge

EDITABLE Student Handouts

  • Criteria & Constraints List (editable; in color and B&W)
  • Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (editable; in color and B&W)
  • Car trunk designs (4 options)
  • Road trip packing items (2 pages- in color and B&W; point-values are editable in PowerPoint) (editable; in color and B&W)
  • Discussion Questions (editable; in color and B&W)

Extension templates

  • Process Flow Map
  • Create Math Problems Based on Designs
  • Task card template (12 sample questions ranging age/skill level provided as well as editable versions and blank versions for students to create their own questions)
  • Task card template for answer key (note: answers are not provided as questions will be generated based on student designs.)
  • Road trip research & planning (9 pages, appropriate for grades 5 – 8. Where necessary, metric & customary measurement versions are included and are editable).


This is one of five challenges available at a 40% discount in the Summer STEM Challenge 5-in-1 bundle

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. )

  • Car trunk handouts (4 options included)
  • Road trip item cut-out handouts (included)
  • Scissors
  • Design analysis handouts (included)


• Envelopes or Ziploc® bags (to hold cut-out items when not in use)

• Tape or glue

• Cameras / cell phone cameras (to quickly capture different pack designs)

• Extension activity handouts (task cards, road trip planning, etc. – included)


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?

“We used this as a partner activity on the last week. Thanks for helping me keep them thinking critically up to the end!”

“Great resource to keep kids engaged in those final weeks of school!”

“My students had a blast with this during our final week of school! We had completed several STEM-based challenges in the past but this was a perfect way to keep them busy while also forming a connection with a real-world application.”

“My kids are now excited about ‘summer school.’”

"I LOVE all of your stuff! Everything is well thought out, engaging and provides valuable experiences for my GT students. Thank you!"


Personal note:

Always impressed at how he deftly arranged and heroically made so much luggage fit in the trunk for family road trips, this challenge is inspired by and dedicated to my father, King of Luggage Tetris!


You might also like these resources:

STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):

Summer STEM Bundle

Back-to-School STEM Bundle


Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE

Back-to-School STEM Challenge Bundle

End of Year / Summer: Keep it Cool – Make it Melt

End of Year / Summer: Amphibious Phone

End of Year / Summer: Wicked-Fast Water Slide

End of Year / Summer: Drippin’ Dash

Card Towers STEM Challenge

Build a Boat STEM Challenge

New Earth City STEM Challenge

Or these great resources:

Photosynthesis: Hands-on Modeling Activity

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

Speak, Listen & Draw Task Cards

Total Pages
50 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour
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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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