Many children end up doing science projects for school or simply for a rainy-day activity. Educational projects can be fun and stimulate children’s minds at the same time. One project to help your child or students think dynamically and logically involves architecture.
Making structures from drinking straws helps children learn about balance, stability and rigidity. Make it a contest, if you like. Have each child or student create his own structure and then see which is the strongest. Discuss why the winner held the most weight.
Things You'll Need
- Drinking straws
- Modeling clay
- Transparent tape
- Thick cardboard square
- Small weights
Choose stiff straws over flexible straws; the flexible necks of flexible straws will create weak spots in your design. Choose any color you like or a multi-pack of colors; make sure to buy the largest bag of straws you can. This way you can make many structures and have extras in case of mistakes.
Bend five straws in half and tape them together, side-by-side to create a raft-like structure. Tape each straw into its bent position before taping all of the straws together; the structure will be more stable. Make two more of these and set them aside.
Roll four marble-sized balls of clay and press them onto the cardboard in a square pattern. Snip two straws in half and stick one end of each half into a clay ball so the straws are perpendicular to the cardboard.
Snip four more straws in half and stick the end of each one into a clay ball at a 45-degree angle to the upright straws. The angled straws should create an X between each set of upright straws. Each angled straw should also touch tips with an upright straw. If not, move the clay balls so they do.
Roll four more clay balls and squish them over the upper corners of the structure, securing each upright straw with the tips of two angled straws. Make sure the ends are completely covered. Press a straw raft into the top of this structure. One story of your tower is complete.
Build one more story as in Steps 1 to 5, placing the next four clay balls at the corners of the first straw raft. When the tower is complete, set small weights--like magnets or coins--on top of the tower to see how much it holds.