I was looking for a fun Engineering project for fall and came across this instructable on creating 3-D shapes out of craft sticks and straws. The exact project described there ended up being too hard for me, so I didn’t even try it with the kids. We just put out multiple sizes of craft sticks, multiple sizes of straws (including these extra wide ones, which were super fun), tape, and scissors and let the kids go at it.
I was a little bit worried that we’d have some kids who needed more direction, so I made a short list of mini challenges. None of the bigger kids wanted to try them – they were all happy doing their own thing – but a few of the younger kids gave them a go. The challenges were generally too hard for the younger ones, and they mostly went back to doing their own thing. The challenges were:
- What is the tallest structure you can build?
- What is the tallest structure you can build that will support the weight of the board book Quiet, Loud ? (Can it support more than one copy?)
- What is the longest cantilevered structure you can build? (A cantilever is supported at only one end, like a diving board.)
- What is the longest cantilevered structure you can build that will support a ping pong ball?
- Can you build something you would use to decorate your room at home?
- Can you build a multi-story house? Bonus points if it includes separate rooms, doors, windows, and/or a roof.
They asked for a few extra supplies — the bigger kids added rubber bands and the the little ones asked for markers and paper — but mostly they were happy building for the full 45 minutes. In fact, many of them kept working past the allotted time, and one third grade girl who is a heavy library user declared this our best program ever. (She made the rainbow unicorn.)
The pictures here are all from the 3rd-5th grade program. The K-2nd grade group made a lot of instruments. One girl made a walking stick and another made a really impressive house with a stick frame and tape walls and roof.
Easy program for the win!