For the opening day of my STEM course I used this activity, inspired by the following TED talk:
I found it to be a great experience for my students. It was a fun way to start the year and the first step towards encouraging my students to take risks within my classroom. Since this was the first time I met my students, it turned out to be a great way to introduce myself and learn a little about them as they worked through the activity.
There was a lot of success and a lot of failure throughout the activity for my students. In hindsight, I think this activity would have been a perfect activity to document with their smart phones, which is something I will definitely try in the future. The activity also was a good lead in to our first topic, scale and units. For homework I had them research large buildings from around the world and look for similarities in their structures. We opened the next class with a discussion about those similarities and whether or not they noticed them in their own marshmallow tower designs. After this discussion, I had them consider what they might do differently if they were given this task again in the future. I am hoping I can find a random day to do this again and see if we’ve learned from the past or if they’ve improved with working in groups.
You can read more about the Marshmallow Challenge at http://marshmallowchallenge.com/
Cover image from the Marshmallow Challenge website.