How We Accidentally Created a Bucket Tower Challenge

This is going to be hard to believe, but some of our best STEM Challenges have been created by accident.

Building boats was one such total spur-of-the-moment challenge. I literally came to school one morning and started going through cabinets to pull out materials I thought kids would want to use to build a boat. They loved this activity so much and it's still one of favorites.

Bucket Towers is another great example of an "accidental" challenge.

This is a STEM Challenge all about a tower with a unique feature. We call these Bucket Towers and it's a favorite challenge for a reason. It involves some great problem solving and the design must also include a reason a tower would need a bucket! Check this post for more!



How was this accidental?

Great question! We have built a lot of different towers in the STEM Lab- spaghetti, index card, toothpicks, straws, foil, and more! In fact, the straw tower activity prompted me to start thinking about a new tower.

I wanted a challenge that used straws because at the time I had about 5000 straws in a cabinet. (That's a great story all by itself and I did a blog post about it >>> click HERE)

Anyway, I knew we would use straws, but what is going to make this a different tower....hmmmm?

What if something had to be suspended within the tower?


Bucket Towers are Born!

Seriously, that is all it took- just thinking about suspending something inside a tower. But, next I had to decide what that would be.

I started opening cabinets looking for the perfect object that we could hang in or on a tower.

Ping pong balls sounded great and I thought about the New Year's Eve ball drop form a tower in New York City. Creating a clock apparatus might work because plenty of towers have clocks on them. Then I thought about window washing platforms on skyscrapers. That would definitely be something suspended from a tower.

BAM! What if the object was not a platform, but a bucket? And I had the perfect little buckets. Yes, I know the buckets are just 3 ounce cups, but they don't weigh very much and it's easy to punch holes in them.

This is a STEM Challenge all about a tower with a unique feature. We call these Bucket Towers and it's a favorite challenge for a reason. It involves some great problem solving and the design must also include a reason a tower would need a bucket! Check this post for more!

The basic premise of this challenge is to build the tower and create a logical reason the tower has a bucket in it!

The tower in the photo above looks very simple and appears to work well. But, did it?

Of course, I also added that the bucket needs to hold weight. Kids learned pretty quickly that a heavy bucket is going to change everything about how the towers work!

Sometimes you need a lot of extra legs!

Towers did tend to sway or buckle under the weight of the bucket, so kids resorted to adding more and more support legs!

This is a STEM Challenge all about a tower with a unique feature. We call these Bucket Towers and it's a favorite challenge for a reason. It involves some great problem solving and the design must also include a reason a tower would need a bucket! Check this post for more!

What can you do with a piece of string?

My students are really good at using a piece of string to anchor towers or structures to the table.

Not only does the tower in the photo below use the string to hold the bucket aloft, the string is also attached to the table and supporting the tower.

This is a STEM Challenge all about a tower with a unique feature. We call these Bucket Towers and it's a favorite challenge for a reason. It involves some great problem solving and the design must also include a reason a tower would need a bucket! Check this post for more!

The tower in the photo below is supported by multiple wide-set legs and somehow it remained standing. We called it the "Spider Tower"!

This is a STEM Challenge all about a tower with a unique feature. We call these Bucket Towers and it's a favorite challenge for a reason. It involves some great problem solving and the design must also include a reason a tower would need a bucket! Check this post for more!

  Have you tried this one yet? 

It's one of our favorites and basically uses a small amount of easily gathered materials.







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