Craft Sticks for the Win with an Amazing Challenge

We have a waterpark in our town and because of this, it is really easy to talk about platforms. The Olympic sized pool has a three-tiered diving platform. In fact, many years ago an Olympic diver came to our town to use the pool and diving platform to train for the Olympics- where she eventually won a gold medal!

To set this challenge up we talk about the platform and also the lifeguard chairs. This gives the kids a great visual of what they are building. 

The rules of our STEM challenge are simple- build a platform that holds weight- which is something they love to do! Testing structures to see if they hold weight is super fun! Take a look!

STEM Challenges for elementary school students! This challenge is so versatile. With older students try building the craft stick platform using hot glue. With younger students use masking tape. The platform has a height requirement and must hold weight. Bring STEM into your upper elementary class with this simple two material challenge. The resource includes detailed instructions with several versions described. Photos, lab sheets, answer samples, and editable forms are provided!

A Versatile Challenge

This one has so many ways to vary the constraints and materials. We originally tried it with hot glue.

Yeah, hot glue. Okay, I know what you are thinking. Who would turn kids loose with hot glue guns?

It's really not that bad.

I have small low-temperature glue guns and we go through a training session with them. I spread brown paper on the floor or countertops and they get busy. Part of the training is to learn how to hold pieces in place with the tip of a craft stick instead of using fingers. I watch over them closely, too! The brown paper is for catching drips and protecting our floor.

The Glue Version of the Platform

Until recently this was the only method I had tried with this particular platform. We used hot glue and craft sticks. The photo below is showing a really spectacular finished model.....except for one thing. It was not the required height!

STEM Challenges for elementary school students! This challenge is so versatile. With older students try building the craft stick platform using hot glue. With younger students use masking tape. The platform has a height requirement and must hold weight. Bring STEM into your upper elementary class with this simple two material challenge. The resource includes detailed instructions with several versions described. Photos, lab sheets, answer samples, and editable forms are provided!

Below is one that was the right height! Notice how the team joined the sticks together on the side.

STEM Challenges for elementary school students! This challenge is so versatile. With older students try building the craft stick platform using hot glue. With younger students use masking tape. The platform has a height requirement and must hold weight. Bring STEM into your upper elementary class with this simple two material challenge. The resource includes detailed instructions with several versions described. Photos, lab sheets, answer samples, and editable forms are provided!

These models held a lot of weight. In fact, some of them would hold my entire penny bucket of almost 1000 pennies. One of the parts of this challenge is for kids to weigh their pennies and see how many grams the platforms would hold. Some of them were too heavy for my scales!

Total fun- BUT I could only use this challenge with fifth graders, due to the glue guns.

The Tape Version of the Platforms!

After hearing from a teacher that tried this challenge I decided to experiment with her method! Instead of glue, we used masking tape.

I also tried this with third graders! They did such a great job with creating the small platforms. They did not have the same height requirement as the older students.
STEM Challenges for elementary school students! This challenge is so versatile. With older students try building the craft stick platform using hot glue. With younger students use masking tape. The platform has a height requirement and must hold weight. Bring STEM into your upper elementary class with this simple two material challenge. The resource includes detailed instructions with several versions described. Photos, lab sheets, answer samples, and editable forms are provided!
In the photo above you can see how they added that one leaning stick. It is actually helping to hold the platform in place and prevents leaning. Look how many pennies it held! (Those small bowls hold about 100.)

STEM Challenges for elementary school students! This challenge is so versatile. With older students try building the craft stick platform using hot glue. With younger students use masking tape. The platform has a height requirement and must hold weight. Bring STEM into your upper elementary class with this simple two material challenge. The resource includes detailed instructions with several versions described. Photos, lab sheets, answer samples, and editable forms are provided!
In this photo, the students came up with a really good idea for making the sides of their platform. It also held a lot of weight. Unfortunately, they did not make it tall enough. My requirement with the younger kids was that the platform had to be the height of a craft stick.


STEM Challenges for elementary school students! This challenge is so versatile. With older students try building the craft stick platform using hot glue. With younger students use masking tape. The platform has a height requirement and must hold weight. Bring STEM into your upper elementary class with this simple two material challenge. The resource includes detailed instructions with several versions described. Photos, lab sheets, answer samples, and editable forms are provided!
Above, oh my. These two boys brought me their planning sketch to see if their idea was okay. We talked through the rules. Would it end up being as tall as a craft stick? They said it would because it is almost 3 feet from the floor. 

My next question was, "Will it hold weight?" They thought it would because of the support leg.

They worked so hard on this and I wanted it to work! Sadly, they never could get it to hold any weight at all- not even the bowl.

Fabulous and Versatile!

I am really excited about the possibilities of this challenge. I use it with upper elementary and make the constraints more strict and with the younger students, I make it less strict. It only takes two materials to build it! #winwin

Kids love building anything that is tested to see if it will hold weight. We usually use pennies, but you can try all sorts of things. I even tried apples one time!

Have fun engineering!

STEM Challenges for elementary school students! This challenge is so versatile. With older students try building the craft stick platform using hot glue. With younger students use masking tape. The platform has a height requirement and must hold weight. Bring STEM into your upper elementary class with this simple two material challenge. The resource includes detailed instructions with several versions described. Photos, lab sheets, answer samples, and editable forms are provided!





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