Home STEM/STEAM The Helping Harriet STEAM Challenge

The Helping Harriet STEAM Challenge

by Diana Benner

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m an avid viewer of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam. Therefore, I was excited about the opportunity to present a STEAM challenge at the recent Elementary Technology Conference that involved eagles.

Fast Facts About the Real Harriet


Harriet is a female bald eagle that is watched by millions on the popular Southwest Florida Eagle cam. Harriet and her original mate, known as Ozzie, had occupied the nest since 2006. After Ozzie’s passing in 2015, Harriet and M15 (Male 15) bonded and built a new nest when the old one deteriorated and completely fell apart. This year marks their fourth season as a mated pair at the nest. You can usually find them at the nest during the months of October through May. The nest is located on the land of the Dick Pritchett Real Estate Company in Fort Myers, Florida.

The STEAM Challenge

Harriet slipped and fell out of her nest. She landed on the ground below the nest and needs your help to get back into the nest. Using the materials provided, build a structure that Harriet can balance on so she can jump back into the nest.

The Steps

Using the Engineer Design Process, the students must follow the steps below to get Harriet back into her nest. The pom-pom Harriett was created by Peggy Reimers out of pom-pom balls, felt shapes, and plastic wiggle eyes. Below are the steps to follow:

  1. Get into groups of four and define the problem you are trying to solve.
  2. Conduct some research and make notes about how your discoveries are going to help solve the problem.
  3. Collect the materials and develop a plan of action that is going to help you solve the problem. The materials for the structure consist of paper plates, small Dixie cups, bottle caps, craft sticks, rubber bands, a fork, and a plastic tray.
  4. Brainstorm and sketch a prototype of your structure.
  5. Build the structure.
  6. Test the structure by placing Harriet on top of it to see if she can balance off of it.
  7. Evaluate the structure and think about what you would do differently next time.

The Structures

With plenty of trial and error, everyone is usually able to build a solid structure that Harriet can balance on. At the conference, since this was a STEAM project, everyone was challenged to also think of themselves not only as engineers, but as artists too. The challenge was so open-ended that it allowed for them to be able to express themselves artistically through their design. Take a look at some of the very cool solutions below that were created and listen to some of the Flipgrid reflections.

This challenge was based on Harriet’s eaglet, E9 (egg #9). E9 slipped and fell out of the nest on March of 2017. Luckily, E9 found his way back to the nest on his own once he discovered he could fly.

To get a copy of this STEAM challenge, click here. If your students have done any STEAM challenges, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

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Michelle Cooper July 2, 2019 - 10:01 am

I love this so much! Thank you!

Rachana Misra October 17, 2021 - 11:16 pm

This looks fun! Will try it out with my kids!

Emily Hopkins October 18, 2021 - 9:54 am

Wonderful! Let us know how it goes. 🙂


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