These Thanksgiving STEM / STEAM Challenges will engage your students in brain-busting work disguised as fun while following the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World! Thanksgiving activities can be fun AND a good use of instructional time!

From this hub page, you will find everything you need to know about all five Thanksgiving STEM challenges: links to resources, blog posts, video walk-throughs, and teacher feedback on each resource.

The Basics:

Using simple materials, students work in partners or groups against criteria & constraints lists to design and build solutions to Thanksgiving challenge problems. Every challenge includes modifications for grades 2-8.

Though the Pumpkin Picker and Corn Cultivator challenges could be interchanged, the recommended order is based on the following story line:

– Pilgrims come to America (Mini Mayflower) 
– Pilgrims require shelter (Protect-a-Pilgrim) 
– Pilgrims gather food (Pumpkin Picker) 
– Pilgrims begin organized agriculture (Corn Cultivator) 
– With food & shelter in place, Pilgrims have time for fun and games (Turkey Transporter)

Teacher Feedback on the Thanksgiving Bundle

Students work individually or in partners/groups, to build a ship that is designed to hold as much capacity as possible, and/or sails the fastest from “England” to “America.”

Teacher Feedback on Mini Mayflower

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

Note: Pilgrim and Native American cut-outs are provided, so you have the option of using either or both.

As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Protect-a-Pilgrim

Individually, or in partners/groups, students will design and build a device to harvest a field of pumpkins as efficiently as possible. (Efficiency is measured in amount of time or number of moves needed to clear the pumpkin patch.) Once picked, pumpkins will be deposited in a harvest container.

As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Pumpkin Picker

Individually, or in partners/groups, students will design and build one or more tools to aid in the cultivation of corn. The tool(s) must till, dig holes, plant & cover seeds, and water the crops.

As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Corn Cultivator

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.

As with all my challenges, modifications are included to make it appropriate for grades 2-8.  More details can be found in resource, blog, and video linked below the teacher feedback.

Teacher Feedback on Turkey Transporter

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Thanksgiving STEM Challenge activities are perfect for students to follow the Pilgrims' journey to the New World. Full of rigor, engagement, and fun with modifications for grades 2-8. Click through to the Thanksgiving STEM Challenge hub for more details, blog posts, video walk-throughs, resources and more!