Here’s a fun and easy idea for a bridge making STEM challenge that you can implement in your classroom, whether your students are in Pre-K, first or second grade, or higher! Plus, it would be super easy to integrate this into a nursery rhyme unit by simply telling the kids they are making the London Bridge! My students really loved this one, and were super motivated to complete it. I think yours will be, too! This can be done with a variety of different materials at different levels, as well, so that makes it EVEN BETTER!
As with most of our STEM projects last year, my first and second grade combo class did this with our fifth grade book buddies. And so we used straws, craft sticks, and masking tape. Their challenge was to make a bridge that would cross over a paper plate without touching it, and that would support an action figure that the kids brought to school.
By the way, here’s the London Bridge song from our Nursery Rhymes: Music with Mother Goose DVD!
My friend Jeff Pang that teaches TK at my school (Transitional Kindergarten, which is similar to Pre-K) did this with nothing more than Duplo Blocks and a long piece of blue butcher paper! How easy is that??? And looking at his photos, I think that you could also challenge your kids to just do this with any blocks plus craft sticks or straws, etc., and let it be free standing. They wouldn’t need to tape it together in order to keep it. Just let them build it and then have fun knocking it over! After that, you can save the supplies and let them explore them later freely, right?
Here are the basic materials you’ll need:
– 10 straws
– 10 craft sticks
– 1 paper plate (just to cross over! You could use a book instead, etc.)
I told the kids that their bridge had to go all the way across the plate without touching it and it had to support an action figure! I didn’t tell them what kind of action figure to bring or what it was for, so that was part of the fun. I enjoyed seeing the variety of solutions to the problem. Many of them taped it right to the desk.
Bridge building is a classic STEM activity and can be done with lots of different materials, i.e. duplos, blocks, etc. Here is an easier DUPLO bridge done by the TK class at my school!
Each child pulled ten bricks out of the tub and then picked a partner, so each team had 20 bricks!
They each started building on opposite sides of the “river” until they met! Once they mastered the narrow river, they worked on a more challenging, wider river. My teacher friend said that ALL of them were able to do this without help!
Similar things can be done by different times of the year with different themes! You could have the kids make:
1. A bridge for the Gingerbread Man to get away from the fox!
2. A bridge for a leprechaun to escape.
3. A bridge for Wee Willie Winkie as he runs through the town.
Let me know if you come up with any other ideas! There are so many possibilities!!
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