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This Thanksgiving STEM / STEAM Challenge will engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun while following the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World! These Thanksgiving activities are fun AND a good use of instructional time!
The basic premise:
Individually, or in partners/groups, students will design and build one or more tools to aid in the cultivation of corn. The tool(s) must till, dig holes, plant & cover seeds, and water the crops.
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 (TM) 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.
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- 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
- Criteria & Constraints List (color and black & white; editable version provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (color and black & white)
- Discussion Questions (in color and B&W)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Task Card templates (with 12 leveled examples and editable version included)
This is one of five Thanksgiving STEM Challenges. They can be purchased in a 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.)
o Popcorn kernels (30 - 50)
o Paperclips or Swedish Fish candies (to symbolize fertilizer)
-- plastic or foil container filled with flour, sand, or soil – or perform the challenge outdoors and have students stake off their farms
o Water (to test irrigation)
o Straws (5 – 10)
o Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
o Popsicle/craft sticks (5 – 10)
o Foil sheet
o Plastic spoons, knives, and/or forks (2 – 4)
o Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
-- Q-tips, toothpicks, clothespins
-- Binder clips
-- Rubber bands, cable ties
-- Small paper cups
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?
“WOW! This is one of my favorite TpT purchases to date! This STEM bundle is engaging and fun. My students loved the activities and it was a way to incorporate some fun into learning about Thanksgiving. The bundle was complete with everything you'd need (except building materials) the questions and instructions were well thought out and perfect!”
“Fantastic resource! Thank you!”
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
Or these great resources:
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!