Friday, November 21, 2014

The Marshmallow Challenge

From September...
I know this is old. But, I don't want to not share it just because it is from the beginning of the year. These activities are things that can be done at any time throughout the year. My students loved the Fred activity, and this one that I am about to share so much, that I have instituted STEM Fridays in our classroom.

While looking for fun back to school ideas, I came across the marshmallow challenge. But everything I was finding had pictures but not an actual description. So I took to google to find the details and finally found the details. And this one is super easy...

Materials: (per group)
20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti
1 yard of masking tape
1 yard of string (I used yarn)
1 marshmallow

I passed out the supplies, and gave the students 18 minutes to build the tallest free standing tower that could support a marshmallow. That was all I told them. Well that and "don't eat the materials!"

It was really fun to see the different strategies that the groups came up with. Some students focused on being the tallest, which resulted in them failing to succeed because their structure couldn't hold the marshmallow without falling over. Other groups took out paper and pencil and sketched an idea. While others built, took apart, then built a new structure.
This next picture, I did NOT think their group was going to make it. I didn't expect their structure to hold the marshmallow. But it worked.
In the end, I think only one group's tower fell and one group didn't finish (though after the time was up I let them keep working and their tower DID eventually hold the marshmallow). The group that did not finish learned a valuable lesson in team work and listening. The reason they didn't finish is because they all had their own ideas and wouldn't listen to each other and come to an agreement.
This is the group that went for height first, before realizing that was not going to work. You can see based on the yarn they really had no method and were just hoping for the best. Their tower barely held on!
And this is the group that did not listen to each other. You can see in the left picture, those two students threw something together in the first 4 minutes. They realized, after looking around, that other groups were doing much better and making taller towers. The group finally decided to listen to each other and combine their ideas.

1 comment:

  1. I did this with my class last year and they had so much fun.


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