I wanted to integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities into my classroom. I knew my limitations and if it was going to be too complicated, well it most likely wouldn’t happen! I realized that STEM activities do NOT need to be complicated and really the best part is that you provide the students with the tools and then step back and watch them go.
I chose to start with Tower building using Toothpicks and Marshmallows. I thought this would be a pretty easy activity, but was surprised at how hard it was. First the children needed to work in groups – some groups were beautiful, some had a few struggles. The had difficulty figuring out how to use the marshmallows and toothpicks correctly. One group was spearing the marshmallows like a shish kabob. They needed to understand that the tower needs to go UP and stand on its own. The kids had a great time building that first day and I knew we needed to repeat this activity (more than once) to continue to learn.
Here are some pictures from our first day of Tower Building.
Before our second attempt, we watchedThe Magic School Bus Under Construction (DE Streaming) and I read aloud Iggy Peck Architect. We talked about building structure, design, and shapes they noticed and what they might do differently this time. .They used their first tower as a guide and tried to build better and higher with interesting results. Final photos are posted below.
We followed this up with another tower building activity using index cards and masking tape. This time I worked with the 3rd grade teacher and we mixed up our classes. In that challenge the children were given specific directions. The tower must be at least 15 inches high and must support a small stuffed animal for 10 seconds. In the end only two groups had a successful tower, but they had a wonderful time building. The combining of the two grades was magical and it was great to see how the different personalities all worked together.
Both of these tower building activities use easy to find, inexpensive supplies and can be ready at any time. I know I need to have more of these items around just to let the kids explore with. What if I made the supplies available and didn’t give them directions on what to build? What would they come up with ? In addition to exploring STEM activities I have been learning about the Maker Movement. It will be fun to see where the combination of these two ideas intersect and what that will look like in the classroom.