Math = Love: First Annual Marshmallow Challenge

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Annual Marshmallow Challenge

Let's just say that day two of year two was amazing!  The $2.95 I spent on supplies for this activity was money well-spent!  When my students entered the classroom, they saw this message on the Smart Board.

Marshmallow Challenge Message
Of course, they instantly wanted to know what The Marshmallow Challenge was.  Even more than that, they wanted to know if they got to eat marshmallows...

I used the following slide to explain the rules:

Marshmallow Challenge Rules
I learned about The Marshmallow Challenge from watching this TED Talk.  The premise is simple.  In groups of four, students are given 18 minutes to construct the tallest tower possible using 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard tape, 1 yard string.  The tower must be freestanding, and it must support a marshmallow.  The marshmallow must be the highest point on the structure.  

The Necessary Supplies
I had so much fun just walking around and eavesdropping on the conversations that ensued as students discussed the best way to build their towers.  I liked that there was a clearly defined time limit because it forced my students to really focus.

And before I share with you the results, I have to tell you about what I learned.  Some people eat dry spaghetti.  I fully expected my students to ask to eat the extra marshmallows.  But spaghetti?

Here are some of the results:

 

I loved where my students were going with this tower, but it definitely did not remain standing after they let go.

This team argued that they should win an award for building the sturdiest tower even if it wasn't the tallest.

The Second Highest Tower of the Day: 64 centimeters

This is another tower with impressive height that immediately collapsed.  

This 9 centimeter tower was the only tower that actually remained standing one class period.  

The Tallest Tower of the Day: 64.5 centimeters




16 comments:

  1. This is awesome! I'm going to try this with my 4th graders. What a fun way to kick off the school year in math!

    Tina
    Crofts' Classroom

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  2. Love it! I was planning to do this same activity!

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  3. Love this activity! Great way to introduce teamwork and have some fun! I am seeing bar graphs and double bar graphs in my students future. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. How did you incorporate bar graphs with this project?

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  4. love it! did this take the entire period? how long are your class periods?

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    1. This did not take the entire period. The students were given 18 minutes to construct their tower. So, the entire activity probably took up around 25-30 minutes of class. We have 50 minute class periods.

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  5. We just did this activity during professional development in June! It's a great activity.

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  6. I absolutely love this idea! It makes me almost wish that I was teaching older students. :-)

    imgoingfirst@gmail.com

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    1. actually, the creator says those who do the best are in kindergarten! so go ahead! :)

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  7. I completed this activity in my Algebra 1 classes this week (Algebra 2 tomorrow!) and they LOVED it! I *cheated* a little as they received 4 marshmallows. It was a great class builder. The highest free standing structure was 36.5 inches. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Thanks for sharing! My students were begging for more marshmallows. Maybe we could revisit this activity at the end of the year and try it with more marshmallows. Hmm...

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  8. This is a wonderful first week of school activity! It helped me determine which students could work well together in groups . Thank you so much for sharing ! I did this with my 7tg grade pre-algebra classes, and they absolutely loved it ! It was the talk of the day ! Out of all my classes , the tallest structure built was 54 cm... Which was constructed by a class filled with predominately special needs students .

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I'm so glad you and your students enjoyed the activity!

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  9. If they broke one of their spaghetti while working would you just replace one?

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    1. I probably wouldn't just because I want my students to plan ahead. If their design requires every single piece of spaghetti, they are taking a major risk. And, risks should have potential consequences. But, I think that's completely up to you. :)

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