Do you have extra gumdrops from Christmas baking? Put them to use in this great math challenge! In this activity, your child will use gumdrops, toothpicks and ‘tower test’ items to build and test structures. Students will be given free building time as well to explore the materials before beginning the challenge. They will then be asked to build based on what they have learned in order to successfully build a tower.
Tower test items (book, water bottle (full, partially full or empty), toy, block, etc)
Ruler or tape measure (optional)
- Start with 10 gumdrops and 20 toothpicks. Allow time for ‘free build’ exploration so that children can practice creating structures.
- After exploration, ask child to predict which ‘tower test’ item they could support on a structure. Choose an item and put aside.
- Start building! Optional: have child measure the length, width, height of their finished structure before the weight test. Record measurements.
- Testing time! Using the chosen tower test item, gently place it on top of the Gumdrop Tower to see if the structure will remain intact!
Important step – analyze results by asking questions! This is an important part of the design thinking process because it teaches your child to prioritize the functionality of their design over personal preferences, and it prevents them from getting too emotionally attached to one design.
Gumdrop Tower Survives!
- Why do you think the tower was able to support the item?
- What geometric shapes (triangles, squares, rectangles) did you use in the tower?
- Could a shorter or taller tower of the same design support the weight?
Gumdrop Tower Topples!
- Why do you think the tower was not able to support the weight?
- What can you change in the design which would help?
- Does the design need to be shorter? Taller?
- Help your child brainstorm new ideas and prototypes
Math skills addressed:
Geometric figures (plane and 3-dimensional)
Predicting, estimating, correcting errors, perseverance
Measuring and recording
Share your Towers with us!
Share your Gumdrop towers with us! Snap photos of your towers and the results. Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them online!