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.

Measuring Rocks

Here are the tools we use tor measuring.In the science lab, we have many tools that we use, and here are some of the tools that students will be practicing with:

  • balance scales
  • measuring tapes
  • “centicubes” (gram blocks)
  • items to measure – in this case, rocks

Students need to practice these skills:

  • to only put ONE rock on one side of the balance scales
  • when to stop adding more gram blocks
  • when to take off extra gram blocks
  • to count – and some of the rocks are over 50 grams, so this can be tricky for some of our youngest students
  • to recognize balance
  • the end of the measuring tape is zero – even if there is no zero shown
  • to make sure the rock (or object) is at the zero to start
  • to know length, width, and around
  • to record their measurements (with kinder, we first start with just practicing how to measure)

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Here are a couple interactive websites or online games:

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