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Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge: Mini Mayflower
Product Description
Looking for a fun Thanksgiving activity that incorporates science, technology, engineering, and/or math?

The basic premise:
Working against a criteria/constraints list Individually or in partners/groups, students build a ship that is designed to hold as much capacity as possible, and/or sails the fastest from “England” to “America.”



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

Thanksgiving STEM Design Challenge: 5-in-1 Bundle

This resource is also available in the STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE at an even greater discount!

...And Mini Mayflower is also included in Boat Building, which also includes a version that dives deeper into data and design analysis.

Note: This product was updated Sept. 10, 2016.


Note: this is a lighter – though not necessarily light - variation of my Boat Building STEM Challenge. If you already own that, please check under “My purchases” to download the update, which now includes this Mini Mayflower version!

Benefits of this STEM Design Challenge:
- Focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and application of learning
- 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 approximately 45 – 60 min. if you are including data gathering and analysis rather than just building for fun. Again, I recommend working on STEM Design Challenges in multiple iterations to get the full value.

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

At least one per class, if not one per student or group:
• 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
• Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts

Optional ideas:
• For building: Clay, pipe cleaners, clay, twine, straws
• For recording data: rulers/measuring tapes, scales, stopwatches (if conducting the speed test)

Product includes:

NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8

Teacher Tips

- Links to my 5-part video series on getting started with STEM challenges
- Premise & Set-up
- Materials and timing
- Modifying Criteria & Constraints to adjust challenge difficulty
- Measuring results
- Post-design extension activities list & links
- Universal STEM Challenge Notes & How to Use Student Handouts

Student Handouts
- Criteria & Constraints List (Two versions, both available in color & black line; editable versions also provided)
- Design Analysis Handouts (Two sets for two different challenge goals and two versions of each: 2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included)
- Discussion Questions [in color and black & white]

Extension templates
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension

What are teachers saying about Mini Mayflower?

“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 may also like these products:


Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle

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

Thanksgiving Parts of Speech Activity (2nd – 3rd)

Halloween STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle

Analyze and Interpret Data Unit

Getting Started with STEM Challenges FREEBIE
Total Pages
30 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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Kerry Tracy




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