Thanksgiving STEM Challenge Activity - Pumpkin Picker Print and Paperless Bundle

Grade Levels
2nd - 8th
Resource Type
Formats Included
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This Thanksgiving STEM / STEAM Challenge is collaborative, brain-busting work disguised as fun!

The basic premise:

Individually, or in partners/groups, students will design and build a device to harvest a field of pumpkins as efficiently as possible. (Efficiency is measured in amount of time or number of moves needed to clear the pumpkin patch.) Once picked, pumpkins will be deposited in a harvest container.


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)

- Optional pumpkin patch grid for setup

Extension templates

- Process Flow Map

- Create Math Problems Based on Designs

- Math Task Card templates (editable; with 12 leveled examples & editable version provided)

- Pumpkin outline writing templates (editable)


Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

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

  • Candy pumpkins or candy corn (24 – 36) (Rolos or wrapped caramels can be substituted)
  • Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
  • Popsicle/craft sticks (10 – 15)
  • Plastic spoons (5 – 10)
  • Bowl or holding container for harvested pumpkins
  • Scissors
  • Copies of pumpkin patch guide handout or green construction paper


• Straws

• Clothespins

• String

• Rulers/measuring tapes

• Tape, cable ties, rubber bands


What are teachers saying about this resource?

“This is a fun STEM challenge that is very thought provoking. Excellent tie in to writing and math, and very detailed teacher notes and steps. That makes it so much easier to get everything set up so the students can start learning. Great product! Thank you!”

“Perfect for my little engineers!”

“I used this with my 8th grade STEM class and they had such an amazing time. I couldn't find any pumpkin candies or candy corn in stores (even though it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet) so I used caramels instead. It worked like a charm because they are about the same size and consistency. I will be using this again!”

"I was leery about paying $4 for this because it seemed like something I could easily do on my own, but there are lots of extra resources and ideas that would allow you to extend this challenge into a week or even more. Well done!"

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Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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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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