Monday, January 24, 2011

Marshmallow Math Fun

Let's build with MARSHMALLOWS!

I was inspired by The Artful Parent who gave her daughter marshmallows and toothpicks to build sculptures and by Almost Unschoolers who built a great structure of fractal tetrahedrons.  Since Sarah is participating in Odyssey of the Mind this year I decided to put a slight twist on the activity and turn it into a challenge.

I challenged the kids to build a structure out of the marshmallows and toothpicks that was as high as they could build.  It was so interesting to see how their ideas started to change and evolve as they went along.

Be sure to use stale marshmallows - ours were out for about a day before we used them.

You can see Jillian and Matthew starting to build their structures.  Sarah, however, was using her Odyssey skills and trying to come up with a group solution before tackling the problem - Jillian and Matthew didn't want to discuss and just dove right in!

{I don't usually let the kids sit on the counter but they were so excited for this challenge I let them go for it!}

Jillian decided to start with a cube but then realized that it would lean and was not very stable.

And Sarah, who started with a cube as well, began to realize that her structure was more stable using triangles. 

After talking about their two different structures {and Jillian running off because her cube was not as stable as what Sarah had built} I showed them how to build a tetrahedron.

Here is the super stable building block!

Then we started connecting lots of tetrahedrons together! 
Check out this link for step by step instructions.

And here was our final product!!!

Sarah had so much fun with this!  She was determined to finish it and was so proud of the result.  I was impressed with how long it held her attention {which is always a challenge} but also with how versatile this activity is.  As Sarah was busy building tetrahedrons I had Matthew putting basic squares and triangles together and Jillian working on hexagons and octagons.

A great way to make learning math - FUN!

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