STEM Activities for Thanksgiving - Pilgrim and Wampanoag Challenges - momgineer

STEM Activities for Thanksgiving - Pilgrim and Wampanoag Challenges

Three Great STEM Challenges to Study the Wampanoag

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try three themed STEM challenges for both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people! I have come up with STEM challenges to learn about tools used by each group of people, water vessels, and their homes. For the Wampanoag people, that means:
  • a bow (hello, elastic potential energy and kinetic energy),
  • a mishoon, and
  • a wetu
Before getting started, research the Wampanoag people. What materials did they use to make these? What were typical activities of Wampanoag adults and youth at the time they met the Pilgrims? Find out more about the Wampanoag and Pilgrims at the Plimoth Plantation website. Here is a link that describes their homes.

Get Started with the STEM Challenges 

Gather basic materials. I always recommend using what you have. For a bow, a string and a bamboo skewer work well. For the mishoon, you may just want to use aluminum foil or clay, or perhaps if you are doing this at home with supervision you can use wood and carve out a real miniature mishoon. For the wetu, try paper or pipe cleaners.

If you can take this one outside to test it, your kids will be thrilled!
Another great one to bring outside if possible (remember to roll up sleeves).

A wetu sample.

Three Great STEM Challenges to Study the Pilgrims

For the Pilgrims, try these three:
  • a capstan (awesome if you are studying simple machines),
  • the Mayflower, and
  • a Pilgrim house
What were Pilgrims used to when they arrived? Were they able to create homes like they had before? Did they need to learn to use different tools and eat different foods? What would that have been like for them?
For this capstan, we used LEGOs and string to haul cargo over 2 feet vertically!
Design and create a mini Mayflower with plastic egg cartons, straws, and plastic bags.
Pilgrim houses were small. Try craft sticks or cardboard.
After trying two of these, students can contrast and compare. Where did the people use each item? How was it important to their livelihood? What materials would you use now if making something similar?

I have created recording sheets and additional STEM challenge prompts you may find useful in this Thanksgiving STEM Bundle, available at Teachers pay Teachers:

In addition to the challenges shown above, there are also challenge cards for each set of people that allow for further exploration. Here is a photo of the Pilgrim cards:

Pin these ideas for later:
Thanksgiving STEM activities with Pilgrims and Wampanoag tools, structures, and more. | Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

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