Thanksgiving STEM Challenge for Middle School - Solar Oven STEM Project

STEM in the Middle
Grade Levels
6th - 9th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
30 pages
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STEM in the Middle
Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).
Easel Activity Included
This resource includes a ready-to-use interactive activity students can complete on any device.  Easel by TPT is free to use! Learn more.
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Are you looking for the perfect activity to keep your students engaged before the holiday? Check out this Thanksgiving STEM challenge that is sure to keep your students engaged until Turkey Day! In this project, students are tasked with saving Thanksgiving dinner by designing and building a solar oven that can cook canned corn.

This Thanksgiving STEM challenge will guide students through the engineering design process as they design and build their own solar ovens. First, your students will learn about the problem. Thanksgiving dinner is almost ready, but the oven breaks down before the corn has been cooked! Then they will use embedded links to research solar energy and variables that affect solar oven efficiency. Next, your students will apply their new knowledge and consider the project criteria and constraints as they design and build a solar oven. They’ll test how hot their oven gets using a thermometer and make adjustments. Finally, they’ll see how fast their solar oven can warm ½ cup of corn to a temperature of at least 100°F or 38°C.

Grab this Thanksgiving STEM resource today so you can take a break from planning and know your students will still be learning and having fun as you count down to the long weekend!


What’s included in the Thanksgiving STEM activity?

  • Detailed teacher notes that include suggestions for facilitating the project
  • PDF, Google, and Easel versions of the student project packets to guide students through the engineering design process
  • A slideshow to assist with lesson facilitation
  • A rubric for easy grading
  • End-of-project celebration certificates

Materials needed to build the solar oven:

  • A cardboard box (large shoe box or pizza box size works well)
  • Foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tape and/or glue
  • Disposable bowl
  • Other clean recyclable items, packing materials, or building materials you have on hand (scrap cardboard, straws, wooden sticks, newspaper, cotton balls, packing peanuts, etc.) 
  • Thermometer
  • ½ cup of canned corn


How can the Thanksgiving STEM Solar Oven Project be used in your classroom?

  • Let your students experience real-world engineering as they problem solving using the design process
  • Keep students engaged and learning before the Thanksgiving holiday
  • Explore renewable resources and green energy
  • Teach students about the uses of solar energy
  • Practice real-world skills, such as critical thinking, communication, cooperation, and collaboration
  • Assign the activity to be completed at home on virtual or asynchronous learning days
  • Use the resource for extra credit, a holiday break packet, or an extension activity



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Total Pages
30 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 hours
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.


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