I found this idea on the blog Creekside Learning: STEM Activities for Kids. This engineering challenge involves having students use paper to build three different 3-D shapes to see which is the strongest structure.
The Stories: 3-D Shapes (Math Concepts Made Easy) by Marina Cohen
“A grocery store is filled with much more than food. The aisles and shelves hold plenty of fun, too. As Justin helps his mother shop, he explores the variety of 3-D shapes all around him. As Justin can show you, there are always plenty of shapes to see!” – Amazon Summary
The Stories: Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
“Friends shape who we are. They make us laugh. They fill us with fun. They stand by us during life’s up and downs. And even when we disagree with our friends, if they’re tried-and-true, they don’t stay bent out of shape for long. That’s the beauty of a good buddy. This joyous book rejoices in the simple beauties of friendship, and reminds readers of all ages that it’s good to have a group of pals.” – Amazon Summary
The Activity: The first story, 3-D Shapes, is a non-fiction book about different types of 3-D shapes, what their characteristics are and examples of them. The second story, Friend shape, is a heart-warming tale of four shapes that are best friends, The shapes’ friendships go through ups and downs with plenty of shape puns (the triangle makes a comment which is a “good point”) to not only tie in characteristics of shapes, but to also talk about the strength of friendships ans thus, the shapes.
This activity can be presented two different ways depending upon which story you use. When I use the non-fiction 3-D Shapes, it is more a tie into a math lesson for the students where we read the book and discuss different shapes and their characteristics. Their challenge is then to build a triangle prism, rectangular prism and cylinder with paper to see which shape can hold the most books. Which shape is the strongest?
When is use the second story, Friendshape, we read the story and as the various shape puns occur, discuss how that relates to the different shapes, but we also focus on how the shapes help each other, support each other and give each other strength. Then I introduce the idea of the students building a triangle, rectangle and circle with paper to see which shape can hold the most books. Which shape is the strongest?
Directions: You can also download a PDF version here.
Step 1: Create your Shapes
- You will need three pieces of regular copy paper and tape.
- Fold and tape the paper into the three shapes (square, triangle and circle).
Step 2: Rules
- Use a normal speaking voice.
- Use only the paper and tape provided.
Step 3: Test It!
- Pick one of the shapes to start with.
- Slowly pile books on top of the shape. Count as you pile the books.
- When one shape collapses, your total book count is the number of books before the collapse.
- Repeat with your other two paper shapes.
Some Observations: Coming soon!