“When I grow up, I’m going to build buildings taller than a roller coaster”
While I stirred my coffee, my four-year-old was telling me all of the things she would do when she was just a bit bigger.
“You can definitely build buildings taller than a roller coaster. You can do anything!”
“Could I build a building…Today?” she asked so sweetly that I had to find some way to make her grown-up dream come true.
Thankfully, I remembered this super fun STEM challenge I did with her brothers, and I knew it would be just the thing for my future architect! So we pulled out our supplies and started building structures with candy pumpkins.
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Have you ever seen the Marshmallow challenge? It’s one of my favorite STEM challenges around. That’s why I thought it would be really fun to take that challenge and make it seasonal with these cute little pumpkin candies!
Building with Candy Pumpkins STEM Challenge for Fall
What You Need for Building Structures with Candy Pumpkins
The set up for this Halloween STEM challenge is super simple.
I just put out a small bowl of pumpkins and a jar of toothpicks and let her go to town.
I should admit that we tried this with candy corn pumpkins (like the ones we dissolved in this experiment) but it didn’t work.
We had to go back to the drawing board and try something new. (This is why I love STEM challenges!)
How to Build Structures with Candy Pumpkins for a Halloween STEM Challenge
For this experiment, I let the kids choose how they wanted to explore.
Option 1: build the tallest tower you can with a set number of toothpicks and candy pumpkins.
Option 2: build structures with candy pumpkins and toothpicks.
They decided that for this first exposure, they wanted free building and engineering. I have to tell you, I was pretty impressed by their creations!
It’s funny, when you let the kids take the lead you might be surprised with what they design. In my head, we should definitely only build up and build towers, but the kids had totally different plans.
Legoman told me he wanted to make a pumpkin and a witches hat, I thought he was crazy. I even told him “that might be really hard.”
Now I feel bad that I limited him. Look what he created!
As he built, he counted and measured, using tons of math without even realizing it. There was so much trial and error involved that was great for his scientific thinking.
Once he finished, he was so proud that he had created his pumpkin. He loved the way everything turned out and the shapes that he used to create it.
Now, on to the next challenge…making a witches hat with pumpkin candies.
One of the coolest things he realized is that he could not make a round object without changing the pattern on the base. He needed to make a square-triangle pattern.
When I asked him about it, he said “Look, if I make squares it just goes straight. If I want to turn it I have to do this pattern. It makes the edges round. “
Honestly, not sure I would have figured that out on my own. I love watching children think!
Building Towers with Candy Pumpkins
Now, on the flip-side Bones and Super B wanted to build towers. They started out with a different plan and thought he would just stick the sticks in the candies and see what happens.
After playing with the materials more, they realized that they could build a tower if they connected the candies with toothpicks and made squares.
” If I connect these like this they are stronger and won’t fall over.”
With some more trial and error, the poor kid started having his tower fall over. He had to problem solve! That is when he decided to expand his base and make it wider at the bottom.
Presto! The tower was stronger.
Turning STEM into STEAM
The traditional “STEM” activity includes science, technology, engineering, and math. However, if you add in some art, you now have STEAM. For this activity, the kids decided it would be really cool to make “blueprints” of their structures. They also decided that their structures were art themselves.
As an extension, we have talked about recreating these models with clay and toothpicks to make them a little more permanent. Maybe this week we will try this!
What is your favorite Fall STEM challenge? Make sure you check out the STEM challenge in action here!
Looking for more STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) projects and inspiration?
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