Guard the Gold STEM Challenge

Guard the Gold 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: If you are in a 1:1 classroom, you may prefer the
digital format, compatible with Google Slides ™.

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 Handouts
    • Post-design extension activities list
    • Link to a video walk-through of the challenge
  • Student Handouts:
    • Criteria & Constraints List (in color and B&W; editable)
    • Results and Design Analysis (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded) spacing for primary students included in color and and B&W; editable)
    • Leprechaun Lore List (in color and B&W; editable)
    • Discussion Questions (color and B&W; editable)
  • Extension templates
    • Process Flow Map
    • Writing Templates
    • Rainbow Research Log (editable)
    • 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 Activities

Digital format – compatible with Google Slides (TM)











St. Patrick's Day Activities

Printable Discounted Bundle

St. Patrick's Day Activities

Digital Discounted Bundle











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Preview Music Credit:

“Carefree” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


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