Design Challenge: Spaghetti Structures

Students learned how engineers collaborate to design, test and improve their ideas. Student teams had a period of 18 minutes to build the tallest free-standing spaghetti structure that could support a marshmallow.

After this activity, students understood that even weak materials can be made stronger with good design techniques, and they learned the importance of teamwork in engineering.

This activity was meant to be an experiential introduction to the engineering design process.

How can a lever make work easier?

The Gifted and Talented Students in Grades 4 and 5 were introduced to the ancient Greek mathematician, Archimedes,”The Father of Experimental Science.”

Although Archimedes did not invent the lever, he was the first to explain how it works. Archimedes theorized that given the right size lever and a place to stand, he could lift an object the size of the earth.

In this activity, students built a first-class lever and used it as a balance. Then, by manipulating the size of the load, effort and length of the load and effort arms, students came to understand the
“Law of Levers” and how levers can make lifting heavy objects easier.

Students were challenged to put the Law of Levers to work by lifting a load of 45 washers with the effort of just 5 washers. Students realized that the closer the load is to the fulcrum, the less effort it takes to lift the load. Through trial and error and problem solving techniques, the students realized that they needed to adjust the location of the fulcrum.