Currently viewing the category: "Grade 5"
Brief Description Students build the tallest tower possible to support a marshmallow. They can use only dry spaghetti and tape.
Subject Types of Engineering, Miscellaneous
Grade Level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Lesson Objectives: Depending on your goals for the unit, the lesson objectives may include:

  1. Students will better understand what “engineering” is and practice using the engineering design process.
  2. Students will practice working with constraints. They will be able to identify the constraints in this activity.
  3. Students will be able to describe the properties of strong structures.
  4. Students will begin to realize that it is okay to fail!
Materials Needed:
  • dried spaghetti (10 pieces for every group)
  • masking tape (1 ft for every group)
  • marshmallows (1 per group)
  • measuring tape/yardstick (most classrooms have one)
Preparation and Set Up:
  • Gather necessary materials
  • When in the class, it is recommended that one STOMPer divide up the tape and spaghetti while the other STOMPer explains the activity.
Necessary Background This activity requires no specific background. Many STOMPers use it to introduce the engineering design process.
  1. Explain the activity: They will have 15 minutes to build the tallest tower out of 10 pieces of spaghetti and 12 inches of tape. The marshmallow must balance at the top of the tower.  The time limit and the limited amount of materials given are known as constraints. (No, you can’t eat the marshmallows. We will be measuring from to the top of the marshmallow so don’t use it as a base)
  2. Split students into groups of 2-4 students and let them work for 15 minutes. Circulate the classroom and talk about different designs.
  3. At the end of 15 minutes, measure the towers. It is recommended not to
  4. Discuss: What did you have trouble with in this challenge? What do you think you needed to make a better tower? How did you make yours stand up? Did the weight of the marshmallow make any towers collapse? You may also want to revisit and discuss any learning goals for the class.
  5. If time allows, you may repeat the activity. Many classes like to repeat the activity so that they can apply what they have just learned!
Author Laura Fradin, Jake Hellman
Reference 1


Name ofActivity Buoyancy and Boat Design
Author STOMP
Keywords boats, buoyancy, air resistance, base, sail
Subject Building/EDP
Grade Level 5
Time 1 Hour
Brief Description This activity combines the study of how upward resistance of water on a boat and air resistance on a sail to better build a sturdy sailboat. It is most effective when students have already done parachute activities and learned how to make a good structure that captures air resistance. Also, make sure to emphasize that the sturdiness of the boat’s base is important.
Learning Goals: – Teaches students to build strong bases
– Introduces students to buoyancy
– Utilizes knowledge of air resistance and how it can be advantageous
– Teaches students the importance of testing and rebuilding
Materials: popsicle sticks, coffee filters, construction paper, cardboard, string, masking tape, duct tape, weights, aluminum foil, saran wrap, straws, clay, tub, fan
Preparation: – Go through powerpoint (see attached) and prepare to present it in meaningful way.
– Arrange students in pairs.
– Make sure you have tubs that can hold water and a fan that can act as wind for the sailboat.
Knowledge Background Some prior basic knowledge of air resistance and buoyancy is helpful.
Procedure 1. Use PPT (attached) to introduce buoyancy and how that factors into boat design(about 6 minutes). 2. Divide students into pairs. 3. Allow students about 35 minutes to build a sailboat and test it first with weights in a tub of still water and then with weights in a tub of water next to a fan, to factor in wind and test the sail and stability of the boat when it moves. Encourage a lot of building, testing, and then redesigning and improving to test again. 4. In the next 10 minutes, make sure all groups have tested their boats at least once. Talk with them while they test to make sure they can tell you what works, what doesn’t, and why. 5. Use the last couple of minutes (about 8) to clean up and wrap up with a discussion of what the students learned.
Reference 1

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