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10 Pipe Cleaner Projects in STEM

Pipe cleaner projects? Really? Yes, really! I have written about straws and craft sticks, using string, and so many more materials.

But never have I focused on pipe cleaner projects! So, let’s take a look at ten projects that include using these versatile fuzzy sticks 🙂

Pipe cleaner projects in STEM class! Let's focus on STEM Challenges that make use of this versatile, bendable, twistable fun material- the very simple fuzzy stick known as a pipe cleaner.

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that Amazon will pass on small percentages to me with your purchase of items. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!

A Few Tips to Get Started

Over the years I have used pipe cleaners many times and I have learned a lot! So, let’s start there.

  • Shop sales or try Amazon. You can find bags in large quantities that will save money. Avoid dollar stores for buying pipe cleaners. You will only pay $1, but you get a small number.
  • Consider cutting pipe cleaners in half when you give them out. Sometimes, young students will waste too much. I have also found pipe cleaners to be fun to “play with”.
  • Pipe cleaners are cuttable- but it takes good scissors for this. Normal safety scissors will not always work.
  • BIGGEST TIP: Not all of your students will know how to use a pipe cleaner! Shocking, I know. But sometimes they have never bent one. They don’t know how to twist the ends so they make a type of fastener. Consider giving out small pieces to teams and teach them how to use them for pipe cleaner projects!

Now, let’s head to some fabulous projects that have pipe cleaners in use!

Cars- Fabulous for Pipe Cleaners

The Bottle Car is a great example of a pipe cleaner project. Students use the fuzzy stick for many things. In the photo, you can see it is holding the balloon in place on the end.

The pipe cleaners in the center are holding the axle sticks to the bottle. This team wrapped the pipe cleaners loosely so the axle could still turn.

The Wind Car is another car project that makes use of the amazing fuzzy stick!

You can see in the photo how the team used the fuzzy stick to support the car’s sail. It is still flexible enough to allow for movement when the wind hits the sail.

Seasonal Projects and Pipe Cleaners

One year I found the perfect pipe cleaners for two Christmas projects. In the image above you can see two of our Brown Bag Trees.

On one side the fuzzy stick is used as the tree’s garland. On the other side, the green sticks are the tree branches!

This Sleigh Toy Zip Line had a requirement that the sleigh resembles a real sleigh- with runners. Those golden fuzzy sticks were perfect!

I found the metallic Christmas-colored pipe cleaners on sale at a local craft store!

Containers or Boxes Need Handles

Need a perfect handle for a STEM Project? Look no further than the pipe cleaner.

In the Container Challenge above you can see the fuzzy handles. Here’s how we do it- students use the metal center of the pipe cleaner to pierce the paper for the container and the pipe cleaner just threads right through.

In this challenge the container has to be lifted with weights inside it- so those handles have to be made well!

The Treasure Box Challenge is another that needs a good handle. One of the rules of this task is that the lid of the treasure box must stay latched closed. The pipe cleaner pieces are perfect for that!

Just a note: We build those treasure boxes after reading a pirate book!

Animals and Robotic Hands

Oh my- this Animal Adaptation Challenge is one of my favorites! I found animal skin pipe cleaners that we used for this project and the students loved them.

Also, notice that the eyes of this panda are made from pipe cleaner pieces.

TIP: When we finish a project I save all those small pieces of pipe cleaners in zippered bags. We use those little pieces all the time!

The first time we tried this Robotic Hand STEM Challenge we used pipe cleaners. They do work! You can see the pointer finger being lifted in the photo.

I have tried several other ways to complete this challenge and all the versions are included in the resource!

Two Perfect Pipe Cleaner Projects

And the grand final of Pipe Cleaner projects includes this one! It’s our 3-D Flower Parts Challenge. Students made many of the parts of their flower models using pipe cleaners, including some with unusual shapes.

TIP: Again- watch for sales on large containers of pipe cleaners!

This Geodesic Dome Challenge is also the perfect pipe cleaner activity. We used straw pieces and pipe cleaners to connect all the little triangles to create our domes.

By the way, this is the project that taught me that not all students know how to twist pipe cleaners together:)

I hope this short little post will inspire you to try some new challenges that use the best little material! Click on any of the images to see more details!

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Pipe cleaner projects in STEM class! Let's focus on STEM Challenges that use this versatile, twistable fun material- the very simple fuzzy stick known as a pipe cleaner.

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