Thanksgiving STEM Challenge Design a Mayflower Sailing Ship Using Wind Power

Rated 4.44 out of 5, based on 9 reviews
9 Ratings
LaFountaine of Knowledge
Grade Levels
3rd - 6th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
10 print, 13 digital
LaFountaine of Knowledge
Also included in
  1. This is a growing collection of easy to implement STEM challenges for upper elementary and middle school aged students. All of these challenges include:background informationstudent directionstips for teachers with suggestions and extensionsa student response worksheeta scoring rubricforce copy link
    Price $33.50Original Price $67.00Save $33.50
  2. This bundle includes 6 holiday themed STEM challenges including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (winter), Saint Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, and Easter. Challenges include: Design a Spider Web (Halloween)Design a Sailing Ship (Thanksgiving - provides background information about the May
    Price $12.43Original Price $17.75Save $5.32


For this STEM Challenge, students must design and test a sailing ship in a tub of water. The objective is to deliver a marshmallow passenger safely to the other side using a handheld fan as wind. This activity includes:

  • teacher directions, discussion questions, and extension activities
  • 3 slides of background information about sailboats
  • 4 slides setting up the challenge with student directions and photos
  • a student response worksheet
  • a scoring rubric
  • a force copy link to a digital Google Slides version

This is the perfect STEM challenge to complete around Thanksgiving as you learn about the voyage of the Mayflower and the Plymouth colony. It also works well as part of a unit on wind power and renewable energy.

Check out some other STEM Challenges your students will love or get my growing STEM bundle instead and save 50%! The best news is you'll get all future STEM resources that I add for free!

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Credits: Background photo by Julia Volk, photo on pages 3 by Gerhard G, and photo on page 4 by Implacable 18, all were used with permission. All other photos are by Shea LaFountaine of LaFountaine of Knowledge. The border on page 10 was created by Chirp Graphics and used with permission. Fonts used include: Amatic SC by Vernon Adams and Coming Soon by Open Window. Fonts used with permission under open source licenses. 

Total Pages
10 print, 13 digital
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
45 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
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.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment. Examples of renewable energy resources could include wind energy, water behind dams, and sunlight; non-renewable energy resources are fossil fuels and fissile materials. Examples of environmental effects could include loss of habitat due to dams, loss of habitat due to surface mining, and air pollution from burning of fossil fuels.


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