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Engagement,  Science

3 Quick Thanksgiving STEM Activities You’ll Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving STEM Activities

I know how the week right before a break for a holiday goes – it can be absolutely crazy! And sometimes, you even start running out of things to teach. You don’t want to start something new right before the break, so what do you do to fill the extra time? STEM challenges are a great solution to this problem! They both engage and challenge students, and the way I do them, they’re incredibly low-prep and inexpensive! So, if you find yourself needing a quick and meaningful activity this month, here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving STEM activities.

1. Corn on the Cob

For this STEM challenge, all you need is a bag of candy corn for each student or group participating! The challenge is to stack the candy corns in a circle as shown in the picture to make a cob of corn. The student or group that makes the tallest cob is the winner!

Thanksgiving STEM activities

Note that this activity is incredibly challenging! Students will have to figure out the best way to stack the candies without it all crashing down.

You can purchase bags of candy corn for $1 at Dollar Tree; however, I do think this candy corn is slightly lower quality than a name brand. If you can swing it, try out a better brand like Brach’s. I found that the Dollar Tree candy corn wasn’t very smooth and many of the pieces were misshapen, which made it harder to stack.

Another option would be to have students try out both types of candy corn and see if one works better for them. Test, test, test!

2. Mayflower Voyage

This Thanksgiving STEM activity can also integrate with social studies as you talk about how the Pilgrims came to America on a boat called the Mayflower. Students will then (individually or in a small group) attempt to create their own boat using only aluminum foil!

Give each student or group some aluminum foil and have them construct a boat. The goal is to create a boat that a) floats, and b) can hold as many coins as possible without sinking. You may wish to have a bowl of water and some coins set out for students to test as they create.

Once students are finished, test out each of their boats! Place each one in the water and one by one, lay coins on top. Keep count of how many coins each boat can hold before it starts to sink. The boat that can hold the most coins and stay afloat, wins!

3. Thanksgiving Table

This is one of my all time favorite Thanksgiving STEM activities! I love it because it is incredibly challenging and really gets students thinking. All you need is a few index cards, tape, and a can of vegetables.

Students are to use the index cards and tape to construct a table that supports the can of vegetables. This one is really tricky to figure out – but so cool once they do! Students may try to simply lay the index cards down and put the can on top, so you may want to give some guidelines, such as the can must be at least 2 inches off the ground.

Want to see the solution, and get more tips for pulling this one off? Click here.

More Thanksgiving STEM Activities

If you like these ideas, click here to check out more Thanksgiving STEM challenges! This resource includes printable instructions for 5 themed challenges, plus student pages to use for planning and reflection. A detailed teacher guide is included, as well! Click the picture below to check out this resource.

Thanksgiving STEM challenges resource

What Thanksgiving activities will you be doing in your classroom this year?


Thanksgiving STEM activities

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