Thanksgiving STEM Activity Mini Mayflower and Mishoon PAPERLESS

Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
30 pages
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  3. 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
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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 version is for use with Google Slides in 1:1/paperless classrooms. If you prefer to print and have students complete work with paper/pencil, you'll want to look at the PRINTABLE VERSION 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.


This is one of five Thanksgiving STEM Challenges. They can be purchased in a bundle at a 40% discount:

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: 5-in-1 DIGITAL/PAPERLESS Bundle


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

Student Slides

- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)

- Design Analysis

- Discussion Questions

Extension slides

- Process flow map

- Create & solve math problems based on designs

- Video/website linked slides

- Directed Drawing Slides


Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

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

• Container filled with water to test the boats (be sure to choose a container with appropriate dimensions, or constrain students on length, width, height accordingly).

• Set of uniform objects to measure capacity (pennies, base-ten blocks, paperclips, balance weights, bouncy balls, etc.)

For each student or group:

• Popsicle/craft sticks, foil sheets, and/or 3x5 cards

• Tape (masking tape or packing tape perform best, constrain to 12 in. or less)

• Scissors

Optional ideas:

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

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


What do teachers have to say about this resource?

Note: Comments taken from the print version.

“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!"


You might also like these resources:


Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle

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

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit


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


Total Pages
30 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.


Questions & Answers

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