Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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Christmas Science Experiment & STEM Challenge: Candy Cane Construction Bridge

Do your kids love Christmas science experiments and holiday-themed lessons and activities? I saw candy canes on sale last week, and I knew we needed to do some more candy cane themed science projects!

The bright white and red colors on candy canes make everything feel like Christmas, and my preschoolers were delighted when I told them we'd be experimenting with candy canes again!

Our first candy cane experiment and our candy cane bending experiment are two extremely popular posts here at Preschool Powol Packets, and I just imagined all my kids having fun with more candy cane science!

What ended up happening was that my oldest daughter had a couple 5-hour long dress rehearsals for a play she's in...on the other side of town! I decided that we would have a Christmas Science in the Park afternoon with my preschoolers while she rehearsed...and they loved it! (To be fair, my oldest has done most of these experiments in the past!)

Anyway, today I'm going to share our candy cane construction bridge challenge! You can present it as a Christmas science experiment in physics or (what we did) a Christmas STEM Challenge! Over the next few days I'll share the other candy cane experiments we did at the park!

Simple Supplies:

* candy canes
* 2 boxes or large rocks you can set a few inches apart from each other
* a few toy animals (we used a duck, a monkey, and an elephant)

Easy How To:

Since I presented this as a STEM Challenge to my kiddos, that's how I'll share it. You're free to make any changes that work for you!

1- Set the two boxes up about six inches apart. Place the animals on one box and the candy canes nearby. We just used boxes left over from our picnic, but you can use any size box or rock to make your "cliffs."

2- Tell you kiddos, "These animals want to get over to this cliff (point at the other box), but they have a problem! They don't want to fall in this ravine (point to the space between the boxes). Can you build a bridge that will hold each animal? Some will balance easier than others! Here's my son pointing out the big ravine:

My kids actually interrupted as soon as I said "But they have a problem." They told me the problem and quickly went to work designing different bridges!

They set up a bridge for the duck pretty quickly, but realized it needed reinforcing before they could balance the monkey or elephant on it!

I love their "reinforcing" idea!

The elephant needed still more support! I suspect my older daughter would have used a different design, but my preschoolers' design was fantastic, and worked perfectly!

After they saved all the animals, they played with the animals and experimented with more designs!

How is this STEM? Remember that STEM for preschoolers is all about integrating subjects and providing challenges and explorations that encourage creative thinking and problem solving. This activity touches the following subject areas:

Science: science processing skills, predicting, testing, physics
Technology: The candy canes become tools to build the bridge. You can also add more technology by researching bridges online. My kids have had a recent fascination with the San Francisco bridge because of a kids music video they saw on the computer.
Engineering: physics: designing and building a bridge
Math: qualitative concepts of distance, weight, and support

This science project was a huge success, and actually motivated my kids to come up with two more of their own candy cane science experiments! I'll be sharing those later today or tomorrow, so be sure to come back for more Christmas science fun!!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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