Third graders in Kumu Kamaʻs class engaged in the Candy Corn Tower Challenge. The goal of this investigation was to build the tallest free-standing structure using only 100 toothpicks and 2 cups of candy corn marshmallows. Students worked in pairs to share different ideas on how to solve the problem. Pairs completed a STEM investigation sheet where they wrote a plan of action and sketched what they envisioned. Groups worked for 8 minutes, then reflected on how they could improve their creation. At this point, many pairs revised their original thoughts. Students then collaborated and created for another 7 minutes, putting their revised plan into action. At the end of the challenge, students recorded what they ended up doing to design and bulld their tower, described the outcome of the challenge, and reflected on what worked well during the challenge, what didnʻt work well, and how they would improve their design next time.
Some comments shared were:
· “We ended up with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our tower was tall, but it leaned to one side.”·
“We made a tower that was stable because we used a lot of toothpicks, but it was short.”
· “One challenge was that our tower was not sturdy...very unstable.”
· “It was a challenge getting our tower to stand on its own.”
· “Next time we need to make a bigger foundation.”
· “Maybe next time we would make all the levels the same size.”
· “Our plan was to build a wide base and as we build up, we would get smaller. When we tried to improve it, we added side supports.”
· “We made a pattern of marshmallow, toothpick, marshmallow, toothpick,... until it got tall.”
· “We ended up changing our product by adding more bases.”
· “We thought that triangles would be the best shape for the structure so we planned to put a lot of triangles together.”
· “We made something completely different from our plan.”
· “I had a really great partner. We worked well together.”
This activity was a fun and educational way to promote critical thinking skills as well as build and strengthen pilina in the classroom!