Second semester is here again! I really love to use that first day back to get the kids up, moving, and being creative. But I know they need to ease back into school… no heavy content just yet. My go to used to be the Ultimate Bubble Blowing Champion. But I recently switched schools. So I now have a strict no food in the classroom policy… bubble gum is a definite no no. I thought of using those marshmallow & spaghetti towers that I’ve heard so much about, but that involved food too. So I had to get creative.
I really liked the idea of having them build a tower, so I did some tweaking and made it work. Overall, it took a little less than 30 minutes from start to finish (so this would be great for those short schedule days right before a break, too!). Here’s the marhmallow challenge powerpoint I used to explain this to my kids. It has the instructions, student groups (I grouped them “strategically random”), and then I set a timer for 20 minutes on the projector (I was worried that would be too long, but there were definitely still kids working when time was up). I like Online Stopwatch, super simple. Each group gets 20 toothpicks, a container of Playdoh (or a half depending on how many groups you have…), and a yard of tape. Then off they go!
It’s interesting to watch them work… each group will start out a little differently. Some make more 3D type bases, some just go for straight height. But they all have to figure out that combination of height and stability because no one can be touching the tower when its height is measured.
Eventually they will peak around at other groups, see one that is looking successful and start tailoring their’s to match. And I tell them that’s fine! “Figure out how to make your’s better!”
What I love about little activities like these towers are that they’re low risk and will get kids to just TRY. This is a great way to let kids dip their toes into engineering before we start up the big projects (like the Bioinspired Houses & the EcoFriendly Dreamhouses)!
How do you like to get your kids back in the swing of things? Leave your ideas in the comments….. and Thanks for stopping by! =)