Following many good ideas for the Israeli version of STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, and Engineering & Math), a group of youngsters from Girls Town Jerusalem accepted a STEM Marshmallow and Toothpick Challenge. Presented with basic concepts of structure, stability, and sustainability, the girls had to figure out the best way to plan and present their marshmallow creations.
Actually, the Challenge provided the girls with the opportunity to collaborate with their fellow students to get a small taste of how an engineer goes about their work. Dividing into teams, evaluating the materials they were provided with and taking into consideration their time limit where all vitally important steps even before anyone put a marshmallow onto a stick. Then the teamwork aspect really kicked in as the groups scrambled to get their structures standing – and stable. As was pointed out in one study, the less “sophisticated” the builders are i.e. kindergarten students as opposed to grad students, the builders innately got down to the task without excessive protocol and formality. Our girls generally did quite well in that way. They huddled, hustled and hurray! The majority of the groups succeeded in putting together a standing skewer-marshmallow form. These materials are sure to be utilized again, with several teachers anxious to follow through in areas of math and science.