The holidays are here and it’s always fun to play with edibles. My kids, like most, learn best when presented with hands on challenges. When the hands on STEM activities include giant marshmallows, their enthusiasm tends to triple.
Thanks to Sylvan Learning’s Edge Program for sponsoring this post and activity!
STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is a term used often when discussing education or careers. The holiday season is a great time to get your kids involved in STEM. With Thanksgiving approaching, kids can get involved with exciting activities such as building structures using cranberries & marshmallows to learn about engineering.
STEM graduates have the potential to earn more money and the careers in these fields are growing very quickly. Enriching STEM programs, such as Sylvan Learning’s EDGE program, challenge and inspire your child with hands-on, experiential classes like robotics, computer coding, game design and engineering. All skills your kids will be thankful for! Best of all, they’re fun!
I was inspired to do this activity after seeing how much fun my kids had participating in Sylvan EDGE classes this past August.
To get them started with STEM learning at home, I presented my kids with a challenge:
Can you build a stable platform that can hold a mini-pumpkin?
For the building materials I provided a choice between three different sizes of marshmallows and some fresh cranberries. Also provided were cut up plastic straws of varying lengths and toothpicks.
Before building I had each child theorize which material would be the most stable and easy to build with. They both went straight for the medium marshmallows.
- Leo theorized that the smaller marshmallows would be more stable because they would have the most connectors
- Fox theorized that the giant marshmallows would be more stable because they had more surface area.
- I theorized that the cranberries would be more stable because they are more rigid.
Then we put our theories to the test!
It was a little bit like Goldilocks and the three bears. The big marshmallows were too big and squishy to build more than one level with. The medium marshmallows were a little better, but also too soft to hold much weight for very long.
The cranberries were the winner! They were firm enough to hold the structure’s shape, even when weighted down with the largest of our three mini pumpkins.
We experimented some more with building pumpkin platforms out of cranberries and toothpicks and found that triangular shapes were stronger than cubes and that a wider base and smaller platform worked well to distribute the weight of the pumpkins.
I love that the Sylvan EDGE classes are hands-on, just like this fun cranberry/marshmallow structure activity! Children need to begin engaging with STEM as early as elementary school in order to compete with their peers in college and the future workforce. Waiting until high school can have a serious impact on their future success.
The holidays are a great time for preschool to middle school aged kids to be exposed to STEM education because they are at the prime age for exposure, retention, and application.
Incorporating STEM into fun hands on activities is a great way to start introducing your kids to STEM!
For more information about all the wonderful hands on STEM classes available through Sylvan Edge, visit the Sylvan Learning site.