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We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL! 

This week’s challenge: 

This week we are challenging you to create multi-purpose building materials our of cardboard. Once you make your squares, use them for the following challenges...

  • Challenge #1: Build the tallest structure possible using 15 squares
  • Challenge #2: Build a bridge between 2 stacks of books using 15 squares
  • Challenge #3: Build a structure where every square connects to at least two other squares
  • Challenge #4: Build a structure that looks like a tree, or another shape

Supplies you will need:

  • Cardboard (had lots of deliveries to your home recently? Here’s something you can do with all that cardboard!)
  • Scissors or x-acto knife
  • Tape measure

Prep:

*Make sure you get a grown up to supervise or do the cardboard cutting for you!*

  1. Cut your cardboard into at least 15 evenly sized squares (ours are about 10 cm2)
  2. Cut random notches into each side of the squares, try not to make all your squares identical
  3. Start fitting them together and see what you can build!

Challenge #1: Tallest Structure

Build the tallest free-standing structure you can build, using only 15 squares.

Challenge #2: Bridge

Build a structure that can connect across a gap between two stacks of books.

Challenge #3: Multiple Connections

Build a structure in which each square is connected to at least two others. 

Challenge #4: Tree

Build a structure that looks like a tree. What about a cactus? Or a pyramid? What else can you make? 

Learning Takeaways:

Building materials are the things people usually use to construct buildings -- wood, bricks, glass, metal

The story of the Three Little Pigs teaches us that some materials can create stronger buildings than others. But no matter what materials you use to build something, you must also make sure that the structure is strong enough to stand on its own. 

Architects often say, “form follows function.” This means that what a building will be used for, or what its purpose is, determines how it will be built. 

A school needs to have space for a gymnasium, classrooms, a library, so it must have a wide base for those rooms to fit and it doesn’t need to be very tall. A movie theatre must have tall ceilings and large rooms to fit the screens and seats. A skyscraper will be tall with lots of floors, but must also spread out its surface area at the bottom to supports the high height to allow for more stability and balance

Can you think of any other type of structure where the design is a result of its purpose? 

If you liked this activity, you might enjoy these free resources from our digital library

A Year at a Construction Site by Nina Laden (picture book, recommended for 3-8 years)

  

DK Eyewitness Books: Building by Philip Wilkinson (non-fiction ebook, recommended for 9-13 years)

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (mystery / fantasy ebook, recommended for 9-13 years)

Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures (documentary series, recommended for 10+ years)

Resources for grown-ups:

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