Creative Child

Engineer a Gumdrop Structure

by Deborah Song

Children are natural-born engineers.  They love to build and take things apart, only to put it back together. When they play with Magna-Tiles, Legos or other building blocks, they are in fact taking what they know about math and science (that two triangles make a square, for instance) and using it to solve a problem. STEM activities for kids help them do this and encourage learning through play.

The earlier you can encourage your child to think like an engineer the better. The engineering design process removes the stigma from failure and teaches instead that failure is an important part of the problem-solving process.  Equally important, it teaches kids that there is no one "right answer" to a problem. Because engineering can be found everywhere, in the way that water flows out of a spout, or the way sounds echo in tunnels, it’s never too early to incorporate the engineering design process into a child’s life. 

This gumdrop structure challenge is one way to get those engineering juices flowing. STEM activities for kids help with building intelligence and memory and this is exactly what this project does.


1.  You’ll Need:

  • 20-40 gumdrops
  • 10-20 toothpicks
  • Paper 
  • Textbook
  • Pencil, pen or other writing utensil
  • Scissors

2.  Blunt toothpick ends:

Cut off the pointy ends of toothpicks using scissors to ensure safety. 

3.  Provide Instructions:


Give these directives and set your children off to build:

"Using gumdrops and toothpicks, build a house-like structure to support a textbook.  The textbook must be raised from surface by height of toothpick."

STEM Activities For Kids continued on the next page...


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