Thanksgiving STEM Activity - Mini Mayflower / Mishoon Print and Paperless Bundle

Rated 4.67 out of 5, based on 3 reviews
3 Ratings
Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching
Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
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Kerry Tracy Feel-Good Teaching


The Mini Mayflower / Mini Mishoon Thanksgiving STEM Challenge will engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun as they design water transportation for the Wampanoag or Pilgrims!

The basic premise:

Working against a criteria/constraints list Individually or in partners/groups, students build a boat that is designed to hold as much capacity as possible, and/or sails the fastest.


Note: This resource includes both the printable version and the paperless option for use with GOOGLE SLIDES (TM) for 1:1 / paperless classroom.


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

Handouts & Google Slides(TM) Options for Student Recording & Reflecting

  • Criteria & Constraints List (editable)
  • Design Analysis (editable)
  • Discussion Questions (editable)

Extension templates

  • Speak, Listen, Draw Oral Communication activity
  • Process Flow Map
  • Create Math Problems Based on Designs


Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

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

  • Popsicle/craft sticks, foil sheets, and/or 3x5 cards
  • Tape (masking tape or packing tape perform best, constrain to 12 in. or less)
  • Scissors
  • Bucket or sink to test the boats

Optional ideas:

For building: Clay, pipe cleaners, clay, twine, straws

For recording data: rulers/measuring tapes, scales, stopwatches (if conducting the speed test)


What are teachers saying about this resource?

“My class loved this and showed such amazing thinking as they worked together on it.”

“WOW! My kids are completely invested in the building of the mini Mayflower. I even had a student thank me for letting them do the activity. The kids are problem solving, using critical thinking skills, and I love the reflection that takes place after the students complete the challenge. The discussions we've been able to have are inspiring! GREAT PRODUCT!”

“My kids loved this! I was really impressed with what they managed to create. Thank you!”

“I added this to my First Thanksgiving unit last year. The students (and the principal) loved it!”

“This was a fun and challenging project for my 3rd graders! Thank you!”

“My fifth graders loved this! Thanks!”

"There was so much more in this product than I could have imagined for $3! My students loved this activity and I loved that I could incorporate science into my Thanksgiving day plans! Thank you."

"My 3rd graders had SO much fun making their Mayflowers and "sailing" them! We didn't have time to do everything provided in this activity sadly, but I love this STEM challenge and I love how it can be used for such a variety of levels! I look forward to using this every year!"

"More awesome STEM challenges by Kerry Tracy. I have a real STEM/STEAM focus in my classroom, and these activities fit in so nicely with my style of teaching and curriculum. The price can't be beat, either!"

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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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