Spaghetti and Marshmallow Structures

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Spaghetti and Marshmallow STEM

STEM Engineering with Spaghetti and Marshmallow Structures!

STEM Learning, what is it and why do you need to know about it?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Teachers, professionals and any educators of children are working together to create hands-on, cross-curricular, inter-disciplinary learning. They are encouraging communities to recognize the deep value of teaching the younger generation through STEM education. It teaches in a way that instills a love of learning to children and if it is cemented from a young age this thirst for knowledge will never cease and continue to thrive into adulthood. It will lead to the next generation of creators, scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

Why should we encourage STEM activities?

  • It invites curiosity and a desire to ask questions.
  • It integrates learning in a fun way.
  • It cements a concept by making it a reality.
  • It makes learning creative and teaches adaptability.
  • Encourages innovation.
  • The learning process is child-friendly, student-based and gives them ownership of it.
  • Its hands-on nature means it can reduce and take out the anxiety and stress that learning can sometimes bring.

Engineering

‘Anything that is built must first be engineered, or planned out. An engineer is a person who designs and builds complex products, machines, systems, or structures. Engineers want to know how and why things work…’

– NASA for Kids: Intro to Engineering, National Geographic

Engineering is thought to be one of the quickest growing fields in world. With this in mind, we are still not meeting that demand, so by giving those seeds in our children a chance to form is important. Who knows, your children might be the engineers of the future.

Just a few different Engineering categories that exist:

  1. Civil
  2. Electrical
  3. Mechanical
  4. Chemical
  5. Aerospace
  6. Environmental
  7. Electronic
  8. Marine
  9. Industrial
  10. Robotics
  11. Software

Each of these categories, then have specialized sub-categories too. The options are endless.

Today we will be sharing with you a fun and easy STEM Civil engineering activity you can do with your children in an inexpensive and simple way. In order for structures to be built, many engineers are needed. A few of them are – civil, electrical, energy, mechanical, plumbing, structural and technological engineers. Today we will be focusing on structural engineering. Structural engineers can work on a vast range of projects; buildings, bridges, ships, aircraft, oil rigs, you name it and they work closely with professionals from other fields too.

Marshmallow and Spaghetti STEM

Create your own structure with Spaghetti and large Marshmallows

What you will need:

  • Spaghetti
  • Large Marshmallows

Instructions:

  1. Depending on how old your child is, explain what you will be building. Demonstrate how they can use the pasta and marshmallows to create a structure. Our task was to build a building. There were no specifications, it just had a to be a building.
  2. Watch the magic unfold.

Notes:

We haven’t done an activity like this in a very long time, so I was interested to see what my 4-year-old would create and come up with. I didn’t want to give too many instructions so to see what her organic process would be. What I did do was just create a simple house like structure for her to look at.

To begin with she started to build a tower but quickly realized that the spaghetti was too fragile to pile lots of marshmallows onto it. By experimenting and looking at the example one in front of her she realized she needed to use marshmallows as a support to put more than one spaghetti piece into it. By putting them in at different sides she saw that she could start to build a more stable and exciting structure.

Spaghetti and Mashmallow STEM
It didn’t take me long to see her imagination drive her creation as it got bigger and more complicated. By completion, it struck me quite how dull my structure was and how visually exciting hers was. When I asked her what she had built she replied, ‘A museum’. The imagination and vision is in our children, now it is the job of the adults around them to use that and teach them in a way that will not extinguish this but add more fire to the flame.

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Grace Selous BullContributor

Grace Selous Bull is an arts education author and freelance blogger. Her book, ‘Potty About Pots: arts and crafts for home and school’ is aimed at children from 5-12 years old and takes them through a journey of ceramics through time. Her blog, The Rainbow Tree, explores all aspects of arts and crafts, and is aimed at children of all ages.  She is a full time Mummy of two girls, both of whom love being creative, and is married to her husband, Andrew, who does not. Follow her on twitter.


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