Guard the Gold Paperless STEM Challenge

Guard the Gold Paperless STEM Challenge


In this St. Patrick’s Day STEM Challenge, students help a leprechaun protect his gold from potential thieves.

Looking for St. Patrick’s Day activities that your students will love but are more than just a craft or activity to pass the time? This St. Patrick’s STEM Challenge (or STEAM Challenge) will keep your students engaged in brain-busting work disguised as fun!


Note: The version you are viewing is compatible with Google Slides ™.

Click here for the printable version of this resource.

Resource includes:

  • NGSS aligned standards, Grades 2 – 8
  • Teacher Tips:
    • 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 Slides
    • Post-design extension activities list
    • Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
  • Student Handouts:
    • Criteria & Constraints List (editable version provided)
    • Results and Design Analysis
    • Leprechaun Lore List
    • Discussion Questions
  • Extension templates
    • Process Flow Map
    • Writing Templates
    • Rainbow Research Log
    • Math Extension

Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

For each student or group:

  • Gold chocolate coins (5 – 10)
  • Almond Hershey’s Kisses or Rolos are a good alternate – easier to find and often less expensive
  • Small cups, bowls, or coffee filters (1 – 3)
  • Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
  • String/yarn (24 – 36 in.)
  • Shoeboxes and/or cardboard scraps (distributed evenly among groups)
  • Craft sticks (5 – 10)
  • Tape (12 – 24 in.)
  • Rubber bands (5 – 10)
  • Scissors
  • Second-timer
  • Design analysis handouts (included)
  • Leprechaun Lore List (included)


  • Plastic baggies (1 – 2)
  • Clothespins (2 – 4)
  • Paperclips (10 – 20)
  • Straws (5 – 10)
  • Toothpicks (10 – 20)
  • Brass brads/fasteners (2 – 4)
  • Single hole-punch

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.

This resource is available in a digital 1:1 format, compatible with Google Slides (TM), as well as in discounted bundles.

St. Patrick's Day Activity

Printable Version










St. Patrick's Day Activities

Printable Discounted Bundle

St. Patrick's Day Activities

Digital Discounted Bundle











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