Bridges and buildings need to be made from strong materials and cleverly constructed too. Some shapes make more robust structures than others. These simple investigations are all great for learning about strong shapes and stable structures in a fun and hands-on way.
A structure is a building made from several different parts.
Stable structure and building investigations for kids
Most of the activities below can be adapted for different ages. Younger children will need more guidance and supervision than older children, who could have the activity set up as a more open-ended STEM challenge.
1. Build a marshmallow and spaghetti structure.
A marshmallow and spaghetti structure is a fun ( and sticky ) way to learn about stable structures. Experiment with squares and triangles in the tower to find out which makes the strongest building.
You can see in the image below that we had to place the spaghetti diagonally across the squares to stop it from collapsing.
We’ve also created an Easter/Spring toothpick tower version of this activity using plasticine and toothpicks to build towers for mini chicks.
2. Build a sugar cube arch
A sugar cube arch is another messy way to learn about strong shapes. You can see we slightly shaped the cubes so they fit together neatly.
3. Strong Columns
Find out why columns are often used to support buildings with an easy Greek architecture STEM challenge. The activity involves standing on paper cups, so it will keep even the most reluctant engineer engaged and maybe even surprised!
4. Strong Shapes
This simple science activity uses paper columns folded into different shapes to discover which shape is the strongest.
Simply create the columns and stack books on top until they collapse. One particular shaped column should be much stronger than the others.
5. How strong is an eggshell?
Find out why domes are such a strong shape using half eggshells! It can be a bit tricky to make the domes, but worth the effort!
6. Gingerbread Structures
Design, build and test structures made from gingerbread to find out which sticky substances hold them together the best.
7. Paper Arch STEM Challenge
This activity uses paper between books to test a flat and arch bridge to determine which can hold the most load.
8. Edible foundations – Earthquake STEM Challenge
This delicious earthquake investigation uses different edible foundations ( jelly, brownie and flapjack) to find out which best supports a toothpick tower during a simulated earthquake.
9. Candy House STEM challenge
This candy house STEM challenge is delicious and a great learning activity too! Use sweets to build a house and test different sticky materials to hold it together.
More building and stability of structure activities for kids
Little Bins for Little Hands has a brilliant paper cup building activity.
Can you design an activity to find out which materials are the most flexible?
Raising Lifelong Learners has a brilliant mini wrecking ball challenge.
For early years, kindergarten and preschool children, take a look at my science ideas for a building topic post.
Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by Emma Vanstone
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