STEM Saturday: Sturdy Structures

Why did the Third Little Pig not get eaten by the Big Bad Wolf? He lived in a sturdy structure! In this case, the building material is what made the house sturdy. But can a structure stand tall and strong using only sticks and mini-marshmallows? This was our investigation for this month's STEM Saturday session.

First, we made bases and figured out which shapes were most stable. Do you know? Then we found ways to stabilize those that needed it, mostly through the use of diagonal sticks. Finally, we began to build "up" on our bases, making structures as tall as possible while still remaining "stable on the table". Gravity sometimes dragged portions of structures down while we scrambled for ways to reinforce them!

While we were building, we studied pictures of famous towers, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the CN Tower in Canada. We studied their shapes and their building designs. This helped some of us in our planning and our building.

Would different materials would give us the same results? Down to the floor we went to build with spaghetti strands and large marshmallows! This provided a real challenge and there were several innovative ways to gain stability, like wider bases and doubled strands. One builder inadvertently created flying buttresses. Another attached a small sack of ten pennies to a tall structure - and it held, for several seconds! 

Before our time ended, we munched on marshmallow cookies and admired our creations. Most went home but a few are still on display in the Children's Room, as sturdy as ever!


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