How does it work? This Thanksgiving STEM Challenge encourages students to help prevent the turkeys from becoming Thanksgiving dinner by building a fast-moving turkey stunt double out of common household items within a limited amount of time. The students work through the STEM Design Process - building a prototype, testing these turkeys by "racing" them, and then making improvements to make the turkeys faster.
Your classroom will be buzzing with positive activity throughout this challenge. Students get excited to sketch and share their ideas with each other to make the fastest turkey. The element of limited time also causes the students to have a sense of urgency that keeps this activity at a high energy level!
The middle school kids in grades 5-8 are expected to identify the need, research the problem, design a solution by writing detailed procedures and sketching prototypes, build and test a prototype, and troubleshoot. The younger students in grades 3-5 are asked to follow the same steps - but in a simpler way. These kiddos will Ask, Imagine, Create, and Improve.
|Turkey Prototypes from Mrs. Jennifer Best's FACS Classes |
at Mercer Middle School (Grades 4-7).
The most awesome part of facilitating a STEM Challenge, for me, is to witness the extraordinary creativity that your students will exhibit during this type of an activity. As adults, we have lost a lot of our imagination - so when we see a handful of random household objects listed as materials, we think: What do you do with these??? We think there has to be one certain way to make whatever it is we are being challenged to design. But, the kids will be able to come up with design ideas beyond what we could have ever imagined! There might be a couple kids that need a few minutes to grease the wheels of innovation, but once they get going there will be no stopping their enthusiasm!
Starting STEM in elementary is a fantastic way for kids to fall in love with science. The kids learn how to cultivate their thinking by following the STEM Design Process during a time when they already think outside of the box! These steps will help them create even more advanced prototypes and troubleshoot at a higher analytical level as they get older - hopefully leading them to successful career paths!
How do I get all those toilet paper rolls? If you aren't a toilet paper roll hoarder, like myself (I mean you never know when you might need one for a STEM Challenge or a craft opportunity - right?!), you might be in a pinch to have enough toilet paper rolls depending on the size of your class(es).
You can ask for donations from your staff members or solicit donations from your students. (Click here for a freebie donation letter template!) Paper craft rolls can also be purchased at Hobby Lobby (click here), so make sure you use their 40% off a regular priced item if you need to buy these supplies. You can also find these at your local Michaels Craft Store (click here) - show them your Teacher ID for a discount.
Love this activity but don't have the time to design it yourself? A student handout, corresponding presentation, and detailed lesson plan is available in my TeachersPayTeachers store for grades 3-5 and grades 5-8 in either PowerPoint or SMART Board formats!