Afternoon STEAM challenges have become a highly-anticipated part of our routine around here lately. I recently shared how the girls created their own styrofoam sculptures during a week of painting and building. This craft stick STEAM challenge was set up in a similar way, and you can set it up at home or in the classroom too.
Craft Stick STEAM Challenge
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- Various craft sticks-We used regular craft sticks, mini craft sticks and skill sticks we received from CraftProjectIdeas.com
- Sharpie Permanent Markers
- Always Ready Turbo Tacky Glue
- Low-temp cordless hot glue gun
For the initial invitation I set this up as a an art activity. I simply placed the materials out on a protected surface so they didn’t have to worry about getting marker on the table, and I invited them to decorate the craft sticks in any way they wanted.
I wasn’t sure at first how long this would hold their interest, but wow was I surprised when they just sat and sat…and sat to create. They spent three days (and even more after creating their initial sculptures) decorating before they even wanted to move on to building.
After decorating their craft sticks I gave each school-age child a hot glue gun to build their own structures. If your child has not used a hot glue gun before please be sure to model how to use one and discuss safety. As the girls sat building there was a lot of trial and error as they designed structures that would stand and match the expectations they had in their minds. Ultimately they both ended up with very unique but equally outstanding designs.
Challenge Ideas and Management Tips
We originally did this more as an open-ended creative time to unwind after school. However, you could easily add in a specific challenge to add in another level of interest. You might have kids see if they can:
- build a structure as tall as them
- build a structure that will hold a specific object (like a ball, a pumpkin, an apple, a rock etc)
- build a structure with a triangle base
- build a structure with a square base
- build any structure with X (amount) of craft sticks
- design a structure that solves a certain problem