Can you build a tower out of noodles? This awesome spaghetti tower challenge is perfect for young and older kids! Build the tallest spaghetti tower that can hold the weight of a jumbo marshmallow. Test out those design and engineering skills with a few simple materials. Which tower design will be the tallest and strongest? We love easy and fun STEM activities for kids!
BUILD A SPAGHETTI MARSHMALLOW TOWER
STEM CHALLENGES FOR KIDS
So you might ask, what does STEM stand for? STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math. The most important thing you can take away from this is that STEM is for everyone!
Yes, kids of all ages can work on STEM projects and enjoy STEM lessons. STEM challenges are great for group work, too! Easily done in the classroom, with groups, or at home for a screen-free activity, simple STEM challenges encourage many skills, including problem-solving and creative thinking.
STEM is everywhere! Just look around. The simple fact that STEM surrounds us is why it’s so important for kids to be a part of, use, and understand STEM, from research on the internet to measurements around the house. Ordinary everyday activities use STEM.
Interested in STEM plus ART? Check out all our STEAM Activities!
From the buildings you see in town, the bridges that connect places, the computers we use, the software programs that go with them, and the air we breathe, STEM is what makes it all possible.
Build a Spaghetti Tower
While you’ve got the spaghetti out, look at this strong spaghetti challenge!
Build a tower of spaghetti noodles that will hold a jumbo marshmallow. Make the tallest tower possible from the materials supplied. The marshmallow must be able to sit on top without falling off.
SET A TIMER
If you’re short on time or have to work within a limited time frame. Set a timer! Results are determined by where the students get with the challenge at the end of the time. Ideally, you want to allow 2-5 minutes of planning time, 15-20 minutes of build time, and several minutes for drawing conclusions. Of course, you can determine this based on your schedule or have no time constraint.
TIME CONSTRAINT: 20 minutes
- 20 sticks of dry spaghetti
- 1 yard or 3 feet of string
- 1 yard or 3 feet of tape
- 1 jumbo marshmallow
Present the kids with the challenge! Tell them these are the only materials they can use to complete the challenge.
STEP 1. Share design ideas, discuss structures and strengths, and even sketch ideas before you begin.
STEP 2. Build your design.
STEP 3. Measure towers, compare results, and discuss difficulties and successes! Use our handy questions for reflection printable to get the conversation started.
Note: Your kid’s prototypes and towers should and will look different from our results! Encourage creativity and problem-solving skills. The images provided are for reference.
Design ideas such as a strong base, pillars, and reinforced areas are key to building the strongest spaghetti tower! Check out famous towers (landmarks) around the world for shape ideas. Do a safe internet search and check out the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai. You might get some ideas!
More Engineering Resources
Below you’ll find various engineering resources to supplement the many engineering projects on the website. From the design process to fun books to key vocabulary terms…you can feel confident providing these valuable skills. Each one of the resources below has a free printable!
ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS
Engineers often follow a design process. There are many different design processes that all engineers use, but each one includes the same basic steps to identify and solve problems.
An example of the process is “ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve.” This process is flexible and may be completed in any order. Learn more about the Engineering Design Process.
WHAT IS AN ENGINEER?
Is a scientist an engineer? Is an engineer a scientist? It might not be very clear! Often scientists and engineers work together to solve a problem. You may find it hard to understand how they are similar yet different. Learn more about what an engineer is.
ENGINEERING BOOKS FOR KIDS
Sometimes the best way to introduce STEM is through a colorfully illustrated book with characters your kids can relate to! Check out this fantastic list of teacher-approved engineering books, and get ready to spark curiosity and exploration!
Think like an engineer! Talk like an engineer! Act like an engineer! Get kids started with a vocabulary list that introduces some awesome engineering terms. Make sure to include them in your next engineering challenge or project.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
Use these reflection questions with your kids after they have completed a STEM challenge. These questions will encourage discussion of the results and increase critical thinking skills. These questions or prompts will help to promote meaningful discussions individually and in groups. Read the questions for reflection here.
Click on the image below or the link for more engineering activities for kids.
MORE FUN STEM CHALLENGES
Here are even more STEM activities that use very simple materials and allow your students or kids to complete fun challenges or projects in a limited amount of time.
Straw Boats Challenge – Design a boat made from straws and tape and see how many items it can hold before it sinks.
Strong Spaghetti – Get out the pasta and test your spaghetti bridge designs. Which one will hold the most weight?
Paper Bridges – Similar to our strong spaghetti challenge. Design a paper bridge with folded paper. Which one will hold the most coins?
Paper Chain STEM Challenge – One of the simplest STEM challenges ever!
Egg Drop Challenge – Create your own designs to protect your egg from breaking when it is dropped from a height.
Strong Paper – Experiment with folding paper in different ways to test its strength and learn what shapes make the strongest structures.
Marshmallow Toothpick Tower – Build the tallest tower using only marshmallows and toothpicks.
Penny Boat Challenge – Design a simple tin foil boat, and see how many pennies it can hold before it sinks.
Cup Tower Challenge – Make the tallest tower you can with 100 paper cups.
Paper Clip Challenge – Grab a bunch of paper clips and make a chain. Are paper clips strong enough to hold weight?
Printable STEM Pack for Kids
80+ Doable Engineering Projects in one convenient pack!
- Full instructions with sample images
- Activity-specific instruction sheets
- Data Collection Sheets
- Questions for Reflection
- Architecture Building Cards: Try the tallest tower challenge
- Bridge Building Cards: Explore different types of bridges to build your own.
- Paper Chain STEM Challenge: Who can make the longest chain? Great icebreaker or quick challenge!
- 3 Little Pigs Architectural Pack: Design a house that won’t blow away!
- Great marshmallow challenge: A classic challenge kids love!
- Real-world STEM challenge lesson but don’t know where to start? Our easy-to-follow template shows the steps!
- What’s the difference between a scientist and an engineer?
- Crossword and word search with engineering vocabulary.
- Engineering vocabulary cards
- Design a one-of-a-kind invention and write about it with this 5-page activity!