Straw Structures

Students were learning the Engineering and Design Process (or part of it) through building Straw Structures?


  • 50 straws
  • 50 pipe cleaners
  • 25 paper clips


Build the tallest free-standing structure possible that will hold a golf ball at the top, using the giving materials.


  • Must support the golf ball for at least 1 minute.
  • Must work with partners and make everyone feel included.
  • Must take apart the structure and clean up when finished.

Method and Timing:

  • 5 minute individual brainstorming time – students were to be working independently (quietly) in their science notebook, sketching or writing out notes to share with their group
  • 5 minute team planning time – share their ideas with their table partners, figure out a way to combine their plans, or use some of the ideas
  • 20 minute build time – making adjustments as they go

Reflect and Revise

  • The whole block of time was used for the planning and building. We have did not have time for the reflect and revise.


This year’s Earth science theme is weather. I have been working with Mrs. Schmidt at Tierrasanta Elementary with some curriculum rotation and NGSS lessons. We will also have some engineering lessons mixed in, but we will be studying weather between now and winter break.

Space Practice

[embeddoc url=”” width=”100%” download=”all” viewer=”google”]Space Practice


This week I did similar lessons with K-3rd, but adapted for the grade level. It was very interesting to watch the difference between the different grade levels and I think was valuable to all. Waves and energy are currently a 3rd grade science standard, but will soon be moving to first grade, so this is why I decided to use this activity with all K-3rd students.

What is a wave? We see waves in the ocean, but is that really the only type of wave?

Here are some items that students experimented with to make “waves”.

Here is also a video of Lego people forming a wave.

So what is the pattern we see?

Student drew a before diagram and after diagram of the pattern.

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