Protect the People Thanksgiving STEM Challenge

Protect the People Thanksgiving STEM Challenge


Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a shelter to protect one or more Pilgrims and/or Wampanoag from wind, rain, and snow.

This Thanksgiving STEM Challenge will keep your kids engaged!

The basic premise:

Individually or in partners/groups, students will design and build a shelter to protect one or more Pilgrims or Wampanoag people from wind, rain, and snow.

–Note: Pilgrim and Wampanoag cut-outs have been provided, so you have the option of using either or both.

Check out the video preview to see what is included in this resource (skip ahead to 5:02 to see what is included in the resource):

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 (color and B&W; editable version provided)
    • Pilgrim and Wampanoag cut-outs for shelter-building (color and B&W)
    • Design Analysis Handouts (2-page regular spacing and 4-page expanded spacing for primary students included) (color and black & white; editable)
    • Discussion Questions (in color and B&W; editable)
  • Extension templates
    • Process flow map
    • Create & solve math problems based on designs
    • Physical Properties of Building Materials Handouts (“wide-rule” and “college rule” versions)

Sample/suggested materials for each student or group:

(Materials you’ll need to do the activity are easily modified. You don’t need to provide all of the following materials. Select a subset and/or add in your own ideas.)

For each student or group:

  • Popsicle/craft sticks (30 – 50)
  • Pipe cleaners (5 – 10)
  • Masking or packing tape (24 – 36 in.)
  • Foil
  • Cardboard / paper plates / small cups
  • Scissors
  • Ruler (to measure shelter dimensions)
  • Copies of Pilgrim and/or Wampanoag cut-outs
  • Copies of data recording & analyzing handouts
  • Spray bottle, eye dropper (to simulate rain)
  • Bottled Water (to simulate snow weight)
  • Small fan (to simulate wind; alternatively, you can blow through a straw)



  • Straws
  • Coffee filters
  • String
  • Cable ties


This resource is also available in paperless format and as part of the Thanksgiving STEM Challenge bundle. Click through below:



Print Version

Paperless Version for use with Google Slides(TM)

If you prefer to purchase on TPT, click here

Note: Any coupon codes you received for subscribing to the email are for this site and will not work on TpT.


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