Today’s STEAM experiment is brought to you by…boredom. My daughter is at school all morning, which means I spend four hours running all over Montgomery County attempting to keep my two year old son entertained. By the time we get home and eat lunch, I’m usually over going to playgrounds and with rush hour traffic, can’t imagine trying to get somewhere cool. On days like that – such as today – I need a quick activity that I can pull together in no time with very little prep involved.
My son and I went apple picking this morning (see above re: keeping him busy while four year old is at school) so I had a ton of them at my disposal this afternoon. Rather than bake (more muffins than I had already baked yesterday) I decided to do a twist on an old STEAM classic: the marshmallow/pretzel stick bridges.
You will need:
- An apple, cut into bite-sized squares
Once I had the materials ready, I told my daughter to think of the green cutting board as a big lake and that Barbie needed to get across the water without getting her feet wet. I said she could either make a bridge across or a tower high enough that Barbie could jump without splashing herself – sometimes you have to use what you know your kids will respond to in order to get a point across, amiright?
Keeping it real here: at first, my daughter didn’t really grasp the whole engineering concept. Her first bridge looked like…well, a bunch of toothpicks put together in a line. Technically it would work but there wasn’t much thought behind it.
I decided to switch tactics to having her build the tower, and the concept of building up seemed to click more than the concept of building across. Looks like all that time spent at the Lego table is starting to pay off!
She was so very proud of herself for having made a tower that stood up all by itself, with no help from mommy!*
*full disclosure: the thing fell down two seconds after I snapped the picture. But she was still pretty pumped.
Set up: super easy.
Length of time needed: as long as it holds your child’s attention.
Mess factor: virtually none (unless, like in my house, apple pieces landed all over the floor!)
Fun factor: I was actually surprised at how much my daughter liked doing this. She played with the apples for about 45 minutes, which is approximately 30 minutes longer than I thought she would. I would say an older child would have more fun with the engineering challenge, but just putting toothpicks in apples held my four year old’s attention for quite a bit of time. And bonus! She got to eat the pieces when she was done playing.