Friday, September 9, 2016


Ancient Greek Architecture STEM Challenge & Activities

We had SO much fun with out Ancient Greek Day that I am postponing my other scheduled posts to share these with you first! I absolutely loved them! The first activity we did was an Ancient Greek Architecture STEM Challenge!

We talked about how the ancient Greeks (and many other cultures still) used the post and lintel system because when you put a top (lintel) on several columns (posts), it can bear much more weight than any of the columns could individually...even if you added them up. We looked at pictures of the parthenon and other 2000+ year old temples built for the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece.

The Parthenon in Athens, Greece:

The STEM Challenge:  I gave the kids a set of paper cups (each team had about 18) and two cookie sheets. I challenged them to build their own building using the post and lintel system. Make it as strong as possible! I invited them to test its strength by stacking books on top of it or (if they were really brave) to try standing on it! Of course, they immediately changed the challenge to building a 2-story tower that could hold their weight! They were super excited, and got to work right away!

Super Simple Supplies: paper cups and cookie sheets.

Results: They were all successful! It was wonderful! They needed some teamwork to balance everything as they climbed on top, but then each tower easily held their weight! One team even had three kids stand on it at the same time (total weight: well over 130 pounds)!!  They also tested the strength of one cup by itself: one cup was easily crushed when the smallest kid in our group tried to stand on it (about 30 pounds)!

And the tallest one of all:

The kids happily spent about 30 minutes working on this and probably would have been happy spending another 30 minutes, but I made them put it away for two reasons: 1- I'd rather end an activity while everyone is enjoying it than after they start to be tired and frustrated, and 2- We still had a TON to do!

Afterwards, try this free Build a Greek Temple interactive activity from The British Museum. It's all online and lets your kids customize a full size (online!) temple using Greek architecture!

And if you want to study ancient Greek architecture more, here is a great introduction for kids!

SCIENCE: Qualitative physics...unless you have older kids and want to make them calculate force and pressure distribution!
TECHNOLOGY: Web-based ap from The British Museum. You can also take pictures and make videos of the building and testing of your cup & cookie sheet towers!
ENGINEERING: Designing a tower, and making sure it stays up!
ART: Creating a "cool" looking building/temple/tower/whatever YOU want to call this challenge!
MATH: Qualitative concepts of gravity, force, and pressure...unless, again, you have older kids and want to make them calculate force and pressure distribution!

Older kids could also be challenged to make a building as tall as possible while still maintaining a minimum support weight (for example, How high can you make a tower that still supports 30 pounds?)!

Be sure to come back during the next few days to see all the Ancient Greece activities I have for you!!

Do you love science experiments and STEM activities? If science is your thing, you will want to check out the over 175 preschool science experiments and activities in my collection! This is an amazing resource organized by science type (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.)

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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Sarah said...

I just wanted you to know what we tried this today and LOVED it. We made it up to 18 inches high and it supported even my weight. It was so cool. Thank you for sharing!!! I linked to you, but you can find my post at
Thanks again, we loved it!!

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Sarah, I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know!!

Gale said...

My son loved this! It was one of our favorite activities all year! Thanks so much for sharing this! (I think we found you on pinterest).

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Gale, thank you so much for letting me know! Your comment totally made my day!