How to Create a Foosball Frenzy in STEM

I still remember playing foosball when I was a teenager. We lived overseas, in Germany. I was an Army kid! Yep, grew up in Germany where we lived on an Army base, went to American schools, and all of us were from the states.

I could write a whole blog post on what it meant to grow up in that culture... but today we are talking all about foosball!

This one was just amazingly fun! And, it's going to be fun for you too- especially because there is a freebie involved! Take a look!

STEM Foosball! This challenge will have students building a foosball model that has two teams trying to kick a ball or marble. Students create the foosball players, design the format of the players, and add details to make the set fun. Let the competitions begin!

How to Begin

First of all, you are going to need some boxes.  I asked kids to bring in boxes and that turned out to be a mistake. Kid sized shoeboxes are not wide enough for this project, so be sure you ask for dad's shoe boxes! (Even some of my size seven ladies shoe boxes were too small!)

So, plan ahead on this one and collect some nice sized boxes. Even ask parents to send in the smaller Amazon boxes because those will work, too!

Gather the Materials

You are going to need wide craft sticks, straws, dowels sticks, markers, scrap paper, and masking tape. 

You will also need tools to help you make the holes in the boxes. For most of the boxes, we were able to make holes using a hole puncher. For the thicker cardboard I used a Phillip's Head screwdriver set and a box cutter to do this. NOTE: I made the holes for the kids! Safety first!

Making the Holes for the Kickers

We talked about what a foosball table looks like and my kids knew this already! Many of them had a set at home or told me they had played at the Boys and Girls Club. I limited them to two rows of players for both sides of their table.

The groups chose their boxes and then planned how to set up their players and where they would want their rods to be. (We called the sticks going across the box our Player Rods.)

The teams marked the spots on their boxes where the rods would go and brought them to me to make the holes. You can see this in the photos below!

One problem we discovered very quickly is that straws alone were not always going to work. Teams that had a narrow box could use straws. But, the wider boxes meant we had to join straws together. This is easy to do! Just flatten one end and slide it into another straw. Wrap a piece of tape around the ends to hold it together.

Now, I say this works, but it does cause the spot to be weak. Another weak part we groaned about was the flexible part of the straw! Those parts would open a little and cause the straws to sag.

So, how did we solve this? (Here's another quick note! When I say we  I mean myself, too. I invent challenges all the time that have materials that don't work the way I think they will. We do some on-the-spot adjusting and add materials as needed when this happens.)

In this case, we added the dowel sticks!

Sticks or Straws... or Both

As soon as I saw the straws were causing problems I pulled out some dowel sticks. You can also use skewers. (Note: A skewer is a shish-ka-bob stick and you need to snap off the pointed end.)

We tried the dowel sticks alone and then slid them inside the straws to see what would happen. 

A couple of things to think about with the sticks!
  1. They did create more stability!
  2. They were longer so they worked perfectly with the wider boxes.
  3. Sometimes they were too long, but you can easily snap a piece off with wire cutters.

Alright, this is the first part of the challenge- getting those holes cut and sticks placed and aligned. We are almost ready for the players!

But, first, let's talk about mistakes we made that might help you plan!

MISTAKES!

In the photo below you can see that I have made holes in the box (sorry for the blurry photo- never let kids operate the camera!)

I made those holes exactly where the kids had marked the spots. Unfortunately, there are two things wrong here.

The holes are too low in the box and the second set of holes is lower than the first.
TIP #1: Have kids decide what their players will look like before they decide where to place the holes and rods. If they are using the entire length of the craft stick as their player then the holes will work better closer to the top of the box. 

TIP #2: Make sure the holes line up!

Above, the mistakes are just in using straws in a very wide box. The flexible parts of the straws were a problem and the straws were not long enough!

TIP #3: Try to find longer straws or skip the straws completely and use dowel sticks.

TIP #4: Dowel sticks are more costly than straws, but they can be reused for a long time. I use 3/16 inch diameter sticks more than other sizes. Try Wal Mart or Hobby Lobby for these!

The Players

Wow, my kids loved this! They decorated those craft sticks with great detail. They added facial expressions, uniform numbers, and bright colors.
Now, a little more about how we test challenges before I tell you guys about them. I find that we make mistakes and that is why I leave tips here about everything we do. One thing we tried (well one among many) with this challenge is using hot glue guns to attach our craft sticks to the dowel rods. This did work, but we learned two things.
  1. The glued sticks would not allow us to adjust easily. We found in testing our sets that we would have one wonky player that needed to be moved slightly, but it was not easy to do with the glue globs.
  2. After the glue cooled and we tried to use the players they would snap off more easily. Try to figure that one out!
So, we started using masking tape- which worked much better!

CONSTANT TESTING

This challenge required a lot of testing and adjusting. Kids would add a player and kick around a marble to see if the player was tall enough and could also reach the marble. If you raised the sticks up too tall then the player missed hitting the marble every time!
Another small tip- we tried lots of different objects to kick. Ping pong balls were too big, the rubber ball in the photo above was too heavy and hard to kick, and marbles worked really well.

Competitions

Can you just hear us screaming and cheering over the competitions!?
STEM Foosball! This challenge will have students building a foosball model that has two teams trying to kick a ball or marble. Students create the foosball players, design the format of the players, and add details to make the set fun. Let the competitions begin!
We set up two competition tables. Two groups were chosen to compete at each table and the remaining groups gathered around and watched. We kept a scoreboard with the winners and rotated to different groups to take a turn. When every group had played on those two foosball models, we switched out for new ones. 

STEM Foosball! This challenge will have students building a foosball model that has two teams trying to kick a ball or marble. Students create the foosball players, design the format of the players, and add details to make the set fun. Let the competitions begin!
Well, that method took a long time! So, we tried something different in another class. We set up all the foosball models and had 6 tables going at the same time. That still left enough kids to gather around and watch at different tables. This made the competitions work faster!

STEM Foosball! This challenge will have students building a foosball model that has two teams trying to kick a ball or marble. Students create the foosball players, design the format of the players, and add details to make the set fun. Let the competitions begin!
We did have some models that malfunctioned during the competitions and we would quickly repair a player that was knocked off or anything else that happened!


STEM Foosball! This challenge will have students building a foosball model that has two teams trying to kick a ball or marble. Students create the foosball players, design the format of the players, and add details to make the set fun. Let the competitions begin!
Kids had a blast building these foosball models and, of course, competing!


FREEBIE!

So, I know you'd like to try this challenge. I have it listed as a freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store BUT...
Download it at the link below and you will have a version with editable forms and a scoring rubric! I added some extra things to this blog download that is exclusive to my blog readers!

Click right here>>>>>>>>>>>   STEM Foosball FREEBIE


STEM Foosball! This challenge will have students building a foosball model that has two teams trying to kick a ball or marble. Students create the foosball players, design the format of the players, and add details to make the set fun. Let the competitions begin!

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