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Are You Ready for Popsicles? (Sticks that is…)

A few months ago I noticed that we were using tons of straws in the lab and I decided to write a post all about that. You can read that post right {HERE}. Straws are such a fabulous material to use and so inexpensive!
In the meantime, we moved on to other challenges and recently I had a student mention that we were using a lot of craft sticks……..and we do! So let me show you how we are using this great little material, also known as a popsicle stick!
STEM Challenges: Gathering supplies for STEM seems daunting, but it really not! Just grab some craft sticks and kids will build about anything!

Here we go with Project # 1!

STEM Challenge: Build a platform using craft sticks! There's a trick to getting this built just right because of the task constraints!
We built bridges and towers before we tackled platforms. In fact, one of the bridges we built was called a platform bridge. This idea came from needing to solve a way to hold something aloft, but not as high as a tower. Wouldn’t this be like a balcony or deck on your house? So, I came up with building a platform and we tried several materials for this- including craft sticks!
What made this challenge tricky is the height requirement! It had to be taller than the length of a craft stick so kids had to determine a way to join lengths of sticks to make it tall enough! Ha! They turned out great and most of them held up tons of pennies. (Well, maybe not tons, maybe about all the pennies I had at the time!)
You can read more about Craft Stick Platforms {HERE}.

Here’s Project #2!

STEM Challenge: Can you build a tower using ALL of the materials? Here's the trick to this one: It has to hold a tennis ball aloft!
We built towers from so many materials in the last two years and of course, my kids always want to have the tallest tower possible. They are quite competitive and will not give up until their tower is the smallest fraction taller than all the others. I usually keep a board chart for each class and the kids from different classes can’t wait to beat each other. (By the way, there is never a prize for being the tallest….)
Anyway, just having a craft stick tower by itself didn’t seem very creative to me….so I played with this idea a little and came up with Tennis Ball Towers! This is one of our favorite towers to build. The tennis ball has to be held aloft and the scarcity of materials makes it a short tower. Also, the kids have to use ALL of the supplies in some way. This makes it tricky!
You can read more about Tennis Ball Towers right {HERE}.

Here’s Project #3!

STEM Challenge: It's all about catapults. The frame is super easy to build! Kids experiment and keep data tables of the results! Then those results are used to build the best version of a catapult!
Oh my goodness! My students love seeing Catapult day on my big board! ( I display what each grade level is doing each week on a big board the students can see when they arrive for class!)
Anyway, this challenge uses craft sticks to build the catapult frame and then more craft sticks to stack together to change the angle of the projectile. What I LOVE about this challenge is that we experiment first. The kids test about 8 different angles and then must use their test data to build the best version of the catapult! Best of all, this challenge uses only rubber bands as an additional supply- no glue!
You can read more about Catapults right {HERE}.

Project #4

STEM Challenge: Using craft sticks and marbles can you build a Newton's Cradle? These are perfect to help kids understand Newton's 3rd Law of Motion!
This is a challenge we just completed about two weeks ago! And my fifth graders loved it! Come back next week and read more about it on my Wednesday post.
We used glue guns and craft sticks, marbles, and string and built these amazing Newton’s Cradles. It was a fabulous challenge and helped us further understand Newton’s Laws of Motion!
You can read more about Newton’s Cradles {HERE}.

Project #5!

STEM Challenge: Learn about suspension bridges and then build one! This takes great care with determining the right size for the bridge supports and the placement of the suspending cable (string)!
This is another challenge that my fifth graders cheer about when they see it announced on my board! They love building these bridges. We spend some time researching exactly what a suspension bridge is and then they build one. It takes some cardboard or foam board and a bunch of craft sticks! In the end, each team decides which team member gets to take the bridge home- most of them stay together well enough to be transported!
Total FUN!
You can read more about Suspension Bridges right {HERE}. 
All five of these STEM challenges give some amazing opportunities to problem solve!
If you need craft sticks I really recommend you get the giant boxes. It’s the best way to save on this frequently used material! And recycle them! We take things apart and reuse sticks all the time!
If you need more problem-solving ideas check my Pinterest board that shows more!


  1. Unknown says

    Fun! I am amazed. Must have taken a lot of work on your part to pull all that off.

  2. Carol Davis says

    These are challenges we have completed over time! And really, all I do is lay out the materials, go over the task rules, take care of the safety part, and then the kids work the magic!