This is part of the 5 Days of Christmas Science Experiments series. This project isn’t a Christmas project in the regular sense. I included it because you can actually download printables and a supply list to create gift kits for the future engineers in your life. It is an affordable option for large groups or those with a limited budget. There is also a lesson plan option available.
When my husband and I were early in our marriage we were broke, but Christmas was still coming. I couldn’t think of anything that was affordable and fun. It was a hard year and we probably went into credit card debt that year to buy some cheap gifts.
Don’t be like us! You can create affordable and awesome gifts for little investment and a lot of fun.
This DIY bridge building stem challenge kit is one of those options. You could make several of these for a $10 investment. Really a couple of dollars in supplies and gift wrapping.
This could be used as a gift or just a fun activity to be able to do with the kids. This would definitely put you in the Aunt or Uncle hall of fame.
What’s the DIY Bridge Building Stem Challenge Kit?
The kit download is almost instant gratification. It includes the instructions for you, instructions that go into the kit, and terms of service/credits page. If the kids need more ideas, there are links and an optional Facebook group.
Supply List for a Completed Kit:
- Downloads: Building Challenge Instructions
- Building Materials (purchase separately):
Are you looking for a lesson activity?
You might be looking for a lesson or activity to do with a little more educational focus. I found the bridge activities online incomplete. I was searching several places to find all of the information I needed to work through the exercise allowing my kids to start roaming around.
This download includes all of the links so you aren’t losing the kids’ attention while you are searching the web. The full lesson includes background information, a 5E lesson outline, a list of middle school standards, and student information sheets.
The 5 types of basic bridges that you’re going to see in the activity.
The bridges cheat sheet is for the kids to use during the activity as a reference. A completed teacher key, a partially completed table, and a fill in the blank option are available. Adapt it to meet your needs.
I suggest working through the online challenge next. This is a fun way to really put that new knowledge of bridges into action.
By going through this activity, they will be able to determine the pros and cons of each bridge and set of circumstances. The next step will be to actually move into building a bridge.
Start your bridge building challenge. The kids can pick one type of bridge and build it with straws, paperclips, and a little masking tape. I like to use index cards as a base for the 100 pennies.
The object is to see who can build a bridge to hold 100 pennies. If you have more than two of you or you just like competition you can start with 100 pennies as the base and then keep adding pennies and see who’s bridge could hold the most or which bridge holds the weight for the longest amount of time.
I spent a couple of hours with my boys going through all of this and of course, my nine-year-old was delighted. If you have a Lego enthusiast, a paper airplane enthusiast, or a Minecrafter in your house (or on your gift list) this could be a hit.
I hope that this helps make your holiday a little brighter!