Name of Activity 
Building Strong Shapes 
Author 
STOMP 
Keywords 
Triangle, square, braced square, LEGO, Simple Machines, sturdy, beam, brick, plate, axle, bushing, friction peg, connector peg, axle extender 
Subject 
Simple Machines 
Grade Level 
K, 1, 2, 3 
Time 
1 Hour Total 
Lesson Objectives: 
 Familiarize students with specific LEGO building strategies and any new pieces.
 How to use pegs (friction and connection).
 Building a triangle and a square.
 Bracing with beams.
 Teach the names of LEGO building pieces.
 Reinforce knowledge of shapes. 
Brief Description 
Students will be guided through this activity, building a triangle, a square, and a braced square using LEGO pieces. Students will then attempt to build a sturdy box on their own with LEGO pieces from their kit. 
Materials Needed: 
 LEGO Simple Machine kit. 
Preparation and Set Up: 
 Construct example shapes.
 Arrange students in pairs.
 Distribute LEGO kits. 
Necessary Background 
N/A 
Procedure 
 Review sturdy building and names of pieces (it may help to have an overhead or poster of pieces and their names):
 Overlapping beams and bricks are stronger than nonoverlapping ones
 Three stacked plates are the same height as one beam.
 Show students how to build in ways other than stacking pieces (pegs, axles and bushings, etc.).
 Have students make a triangle.
 Show students on your example how you can use both pegs and axles with bushings to connect beams.
 Push on your triangle to show how strong and sturdy it is.
 Show students a prebuilt square
 Show on your demo model that the square is not sturdy and talk about why.
 Have students brainstorm ways to make a square sturdy.
 Have students build a square and add a diagonal brace to their square to make it sturdy.
 Show students that by adding the brace you have created two triangles and remind students that triangles are very sturdy shapes.
 Have students use this new knowledge to build a sturdy box.
 Tell students that the sides of the box do not need to be closed.
 Use the Engineering Design Process in the process of building the box.
 Create: Build the box using the pieces introduced in this lesson
 Test: apply 2 tests
 Flick Test – the box won’t collapse when pushed
 Drop Test – box doesn’t break when dropped from ankle height.
 Redesign: Rebuild the box until it passes the tests. Consider ways to make the box stronger.
 Share: Come together as a class to share designs.
 Talk about difficulties that different groups had in building their box and how they overcame these difficulties.
 Identify different shapes in the boxes and the pieces that the groups used.
 Talk about ways that different groups made their boxes stronger.
 Look around the classroom for examples of sturdy shapes and sturdy building.

Extensions or Modifications: 
 Introduce measurement and have the students measure their creations using different units.
 Build the widest/longest structure.
 Build the shortest structure using only 10 pieces. 
Sample Image 1 
http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/sturdy1.png 
Sample Image 2 
http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/sturdy2.png 