What's Going on in Science Class? Bucket Towers!

It's Wednesday!
That means it is time to check into the lab and see what we have been up to!
It's BUCKET TOWERS!
STEM Challenges: This amazing challenge uses one basic material- Straws! Add a few more items and see if your students can build a suspended bucket that will hold weight!


Okay, there is a back story to this one!
Last spring I asked if teachers could add some items to our school supply lists. I figured if some of the kids brought things I use often in the lab it would be very helpful. Now, I know I asked for pencils, but apparently I also asked for straws.
Yep, that's a lot of straws.
So, I started trying to invent things we could build using straws. And I thought about towers first- cause we love to build towers. We have built some towers of straws already so I added a twist to this one- it had to have a suspended bucket.

STEM Challenges: This amazing challenge uses one basic material- Straws! Add a few more items and see if your students can build a suspended bucket that will hold weight!


Okay, some more background. I use STEM challenges multiple times and after the second go around I usually have all the kinks worked out. My students LOVE it when I tell them they are the Test Class. They know this means that I have NO IDEA what is going to happen and we kind of make it up as we go....
I am serious.

The test class will start to work on something and we have to stop frequently and talk about what is happening. We often add rules right in the middle of the task when we run into problems.

Here's the first kink in the Bucket Towers.
TAPE!
I knew better, but just didn't think it through and gave each group a roll of tape.
Take a look:
STEM Challenges: This amazing challenge uses one basic material- Straws! Add a few more items and see if your students can build a suspended bucket that will hold weight! We did learn to limit the amount of tape that could be used!
Is this tower made of straws or tape?
Needless to say, I added a rule to the next class and limited the amount of tape being used.

Next kink in the task was the BUCKET! Check this photo!
STEM Challenges: This amazing challenge uses one basic material- Straws! Add a few more items and see if your students can build a suspended bucket that will hold weight! Make sure you follow the constraints- the bucket cannot be attached!
Mind you, that is a spectacular structure and it held 200+ pennies when we tested it. But is it a bucket if it's attached to the structure? We had quite a discussion about this and decided the rule needed to be added that the bucket could not be restrained. (You can't tell in the photo but the straw through the bucket is attached to the structure's frame. It will turn over, but it does not swing freely.)

Next Kink:
STRING
Was the string provided only to use with the bucket?
STEM Challenges: This amazing challenge uses one basic material- Straws! Add a few more items and see if your students can build a suspended bucket that will hold weight! This team found a clever way to use their string!
What if you don't need all the string? Can it be used to help tie down the structure?  The arrow is pointing to a string being used as a guide wire. We decided this was alright and actually very clever!

Here's a couple more looks at the different things made:
STEM Challenges: This amazing challenge uses one basic material- Straws! Add a few more items and see if your students can build a suspended bucket that will hold weight! HOw tall is a tower? This team sacrificed height for a bucket that would work!

The one below also used the string to keep the structure upright. And look at the way they used the bendy part of the straw!
STEM Challenges: This amazing challenge uses one basic material- Straws! Add a few more items and see if your students can build a suspended bucket that will hold weight! This team used the bendy part of a straw to help their tower stand up!
Overall, the test class did a great job and helped me refine this challenge for the next four classes.

CONCLUSION: We LOVED Bucket Towers!

Well, there you have it- the first of our straw structures. We are in the middle of two more challenges that use straws. More about those soon.
You can also see more about Bucket Towers right {HERE}!
Join me for more lab stuff next Wednesday!


11 comments

  1. This is great! I, too, have many straws. Tomorrow, we shall try this challenge! Thanks for the idea!

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  2. Replies
    1. I do have this project available! Here's a link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-Engineering-Challenge-Bucket-Towers-2063926

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  3. Thank you. You blog help me to get the direction for teach my son.

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    1. Excellent! I am glad you found this post! Enjoy!

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  4. What limits did you put on the tape and the string?

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    1. Everything about this challenge is in the product package! Here's a link:
      https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STEM-Engineering-Challenge-Bucket-Towers-2063926

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  5. Replies
    1. Hi Erica! I have tried this with fourth and fifth graders. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. We are in the middle of creating our bucket towers. I am as excited and the students to see who comes up with what. Thank you for posting

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    1. This makes me so happy! I am excited for your kids as they try this fun challenge! Thank you for letting me know!

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