Super Structures

I love science.  God has created such an interesting world for us to discover.  It is no surprise that I was a super cool science teacher and an engineer before homeschooling my boys.  While searching around Pintest for some fun things to do with the boys, I found this one from Frugal Fun for Boys.  I was inspired me to ask the boys if they wanted to try something similar. They were intrigued…

First thing to do is gather building supplies.  I used a variety of wooden blocks and spools.  To avoid arguments I made sure each boy had the same blocks in their piles.

Challenge 1: Build a structure using one spool as the base.
Challenge 2: Build the tallest structure using any kind of base.
Challenge 3: Build a structure using one cube as the base.

Challenge 4: Build a structure with in interesting sense of balance.

After each challenge the boys talked about their structures.  They already knew that a larger base made for a stable structure.  Our challenges gave them more experience with that.  TJ was really into the challenges while MJ sort of did his own things for a while.

The next thing we did was to look at paper structures.  I had made three tubes (cylinder, triangle, square) out of cardstock.  I asked the boys to predict how many books each could support.  To the boys’ surprise the cylinder held about 6 heavy books, while the other two barely held up one. 

For those of you wondering why that is, you see it all has to do with forces.  The force of the books pushing down (their weight) ends up concentrating around the edges of the triangular and square shaped tubes.  The cylinder has no edges and the weight is evenly distributed so it can hold up more books. 

Using what we just talked about I challenged the boys to build a structure out of newsprint that was taller than our bookcase.  MJ went for a sort of straight up pole idea but found that it wasn’t stable.  TJ had a great idea to build a stable base but lost interest as it was more work.  We talked about making another challenge to build a paper structure that could hold a toy.  TJ then wanted his structure to be strong and stable.

I left the boys to keep building while I went to get the baby.  When I returned they had turned their structures into baseball bats and were playing ball in the family room.  I knew they’d learned a lot from our explorations, and was impressed with the creativity they showed.  Time for a ball game!