Want your class to get involve in STEM? Want the Gingerbread Man to survive? Have students build a bridge across the river. My criteria; it had to be able to support the Gingerbread Man, it had to be wide enough that the Gingerbread Man could easily walk across it and not fall through. I gave them access to popsicle sticks, index cards, pipe cleaners and LOTS of blue painters tape. (I went through a whole roll, the price you pay for good science.) :)
Simple but effective. After this picture they added index cards so the Gingerbread Man would not fall in the cracks.
I completely doubted that this would hold the Gingerbread Man, but I was wrong. Without the added weight of popsicle sticks, this structure had no problem handling the weight of a small cookie.
The design on the left was a prototype that ended up not working out for this group. They tried MANY things before they had a bridge that worked. The three people in this group worked out their own way of making the bridge and then put them all together. It does not look as streamline as the others, but they all have something on it that they can call their own.
This group by far worked together the best and created the first structure that would hold a Gingerbread Man. They talked through what their plan was and all worked together to accomplish it. Index cards were added underneath the popsicle sticks as well. The students left their Gingerbread Man proudly in the middle of their bridge and we went to specials. We came back and their bridge had bowed in at the middle. There were a few tears from one kiddo, but this team got right back to work and added the middle support beam that you see in the picture below.
I was so proud of my students and the way they problem solved to create bridges for their Gingerbread Men!
Want more Gingerbread STEM activites? Check out my friend Della Larsen's Class. She has a great STEM resource for having the students help the Gingerbread Man survive the river.