STEM Challenge

November 2, 2016

Candy Corn Tower
A Halloween STEM Challenge

6th Grade American Team decided to have fun for Halloween by using toothpicks and candy corn.  The students’ objective was to build the tallest freestanding structure they could by using 100 toothpicks and one cup of candy corn. They had 15 minutes to try and complete this task.

We started this task by recording their ideas and a sketch of what they hoped to build. Once everyone had their sketches done they received their supplies. It was a ‘hoot’ to watch them. First of all they all wanted to eat at least one candy corn. It was just too much for them to resist.

Many found right away that toothpicks and candy corn do not hold that well together. Students had to brainstorm ideas of how to make it work. Many teams tried a different structure than what they had planned. They looked around at each other structures hoping to get some ideas.  Some of the ideas that teams were coming up with to help make their structures stable were: biting the ends of the candy corn so they were more square, breaking toothpicks in half so that structures may be more stable, some came up with the idea of lincoln logs, and one group even decided to lick the candy corn so that they were softer. One team, Jessica and Aiden, had a structure that was over 12” tall but collapsed at the very end. At the end of 15 minutes structures that stayed standing were measured. The tallest two structures were 9” and 8 ½”.  Korah, Julian, Nely and Manuel had the tallest structure (9”) from all five classes

While students ate remaining candy they had to explain what they ended up doing along with a picture. They had to state what the outcome of the challenge was for them including what worked well, what challenges did they face and finally how would they improve on their design next time.