STEM Straw Bridges

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Science Technology Engineering and Math {STEM} activities are fun ways to teach kids how things work. This straw bridge activity takes just a few minutes to prep but will keep young engineers learning for hours.

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Building Straw Bridges

To give the kids a strong introduction to bridge design, we started our activity by reading Carol Johmann’s Bridges! together as a class.

Then, we talked about five popular types of bridges: arch, beam, suspension, cable-stay and truss. As we reviewed the characteristics of each one, I drew a simple anchor chart kids could refer to when they were designing their bridges later.

Great STEM anchor chart for a bridge engineering project.

Then, I placed students into teams of three or four and gave each group a tray of supplies:

  • Tape
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Paper clips
  • Straws

Straw bridge STEM project for kids.

Their task was simple: build a bridge that was strong enough to hold a plastic cup filled with 100 pennies.

Kid-Friendly Ways to Spark Creativity {Playdough to Plato}

They could cut the straws to any length, but their bridges had to sit at least one inch off the table.

Some teams succeeded and some failed, but either way, it was impressive to watch their problem solving and teamwork. They loved observing what worked for other groups and then incorporating it into their own designs.

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21 Comments

  1. STEM activities like these are perfect for helping kids develop and enhance problem solving skills as well as logical thinking. Thanks for sharing these ideas, I am sure kids will enjoy it!

    1. YAY! We are so happy to hear that! Fingers crossed that your kids love it!

      Kaylee // Playdough to Plato Team

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