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!
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 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
NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
- 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
- Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
- Design Analysis
- Discussion Questions
- Process flow map
- Create & solve math problems based on designs
- Video/website linked slides
- 12 math problem task card slides of increasing difficulty
- Pumpkin writing slide
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified. )
o Candy pumpkins or candy corn (24 – 36) (Rolos or wrapped caramels can be substituted)
o Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
o Popsicle/craft sticks (10 – 15)
o Plastic spoons (5 – 10)
o Bowl or holding container for harvested pumpkins
o Copies of pumpkin patch guide handout or green construction paper
o Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
• Rulers/measuring tapes
• Tape, cable ties, rubber bands
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 ~60-90 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?
Note: Comments taken from the print version.
“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!”
You might also like these resources:
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Halloween STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
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!