I love giving my children open-ended challenges to complete. This STEAM engineering challenge was a hit, with plenty of trial and error and then some very cool designs in the end.
The challenge I gave to my kids was this:
Using the materials provided, build a structure with a single point that you can balance on your finger. . . or on your nose!
This post is part of the 28 Days of STEAM Blog Hop, where you can find hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math projects for kids.
You can do this challenge with any of a variety of materials. We started out using the sticks and beads from our Spielgaben set along with some scotch tape.
We also pulled out our Zome Tools kit.
My son started with the Spielgaben set and after a few different attempts he managed to build a structure he could balance on his finger on just one point.
The next challenge was to balance the structure on his nose, and it worked as well! I challenged him to walk across the room like this and he was able to do it.
Next we started building structures with the struts and balls from our Zome Tools kit.
We experimented with several designs, and eventually built this wide structure that my daughter was able to place on her nose and walk down the hallway.
A few things we learned from this challenge:
- The bottom of the side poles must be lower than the balancing point on your finger
- Adding weight to the bottom of the poles helps
- Keeping the weight balanced on both sides of the structure is important
- Wider structures have more stability
To illustrate how wider structures provide stability, you may wish to show a video of a tight rope walker carrying a very long, wide pole, like this video of tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walking over the Chicago River between the Marina City towers.
More resources for STEAM learning
Most STEAM posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- 15 engineering challenges
- Egg drop challenge
- Chromatography flowers
- Building with blocks and tape
- Dancing raisins
- What do ants like to eat?
- Make your own telescope
- The great baking soda and vinegar experiment
Looking for even more STEAM ideas for your classroom? Check out these printable resources:
- Straw STEM Challenges
- Paper STEM Challenges
- Toothpick STEM Challenges
- Famous landmarks STEM Challenges
Find more awesome building challenges on my Engineering Challenges Pinterest board.