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 a way to safely transport a turkey a given distance (e.g. width of the classroom, 15 ft., the top of the stairwell to the ground, etc.).
-- Because this can be treated as two separate challenges, two criteria/constraints lists have been provided: one for the turkey traveling a horizontal distance quickly and a second for a vertical drop, arriving gently/slowly.
*** CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO PREVIEW ***
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 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)
- Optional pumpkin patch grid for setup
- 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)
- Calculating speed handout (includes editable version)
- Process Flow Map
- Math Extension
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!
Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:
(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified.)
– Copies of Turkey handouts
– Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
– Popsicle/craft sticks (5 – 10)
– Rope and/or string (Equal amount to distance requirement)
– Paper plate(s) and/or bowls
– Coffee filters
– Straws (5 – 10)
– Binder clips (1-3, various sizes)
– Clothespins (3 – 5)
– Measuring tapes (tip: pick up paper measuring tapes from Ikea)
– Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
• Cable ties
• Rubber bands
• Small 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?
“My class used this the day before Thanksgiving break. So many students were missing, and I wanted to do something valuable, but didn't want to proceed through the curriculum with all of my missing kiddos. This was PERFECT. The video was so helpful and the activity prompted some great science discussions (relationship between gravity and mass, friction, potential energy vs. kinetic energy). Thank you for such a well constructed activity!”
“Did this with my second graders, and they loved it!!! It was amazing - I truly appreciated the video guidance also as I had never done an activity like this. I will be looking to purchase more from Kerry Tracy!”
“My kids absolutely LOVED this! This was so much fun! I did this during a curriculum night with the parents and they really enjoyed it too!”
"This is quite possibly the most thorough STEM project resource I have ever run across. It's perfect for the way our school does multi-grade interest-based scientific inquiry. THANK YOU!"
“My students LOVED this activity! Thank you so much!”
“A lot of bang for your buck! This was a fantastic activity with detailed pages.”
“My class had the most fun! They were cooperative and excited, and absolutely amazed at how much fun they had writing after all of the hands on fun!”
You might also like these resources:
STEM Challenges & Bundles (grades 2 – 8):
STEM CHALLENGE YEAR-ROUND MEGA-BUNDLE
Thanksgiving STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Christmas/Winter STEM Design Challenge: 5-in-1 Bundle
Halloween STEM Challenge 5-in-1 Bundle
Or these great resources:
Photosynthesis: Hands-on Modeling Activity
Analyze and Interpret Data Unit
Speak, Listen & Draw Task Cards
Please check out the video preview to see the challenge, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!