In this hands-on spring STEM challenge, you will work together to build a bird’s nest to hold as many Peeps as you can! With just a few household items, your child can build their very own bird’s nest while building STEM skills along the way.
The challenge is to build a strong nest that will hold the most weight or most amount of Peeps possible. This STEM activity incorporates stability and strength into engineering design, as well as plenty of patience and perseverance.
1. Make a plan. Encourage your child to think about the shape of a bird’s nest. What makes a sturdy base? How could you use the materials to recreate the same shape? You could also encourage your child to draw their nest structure before they begin building, or you could draw a design for them to build from.
2. Begin with 2D shapes. Stick the toothpicks into the marshmallows to make simple shapes like triangles, squares, and pentagons.
3. After your child has made a 2D shape, you could ask them to add onto it to make a 3D shape, like a cube or triangular prism.
4. Use a 3D shape, or combine multiple, to build the base for your nest. Like any structure, the base is the most important part of building a stable project. The stronger your base, the more weight your nest is able to hold. We made many iterations of the base before we felt confident that our Peeps wouldn’t fall through the gaps in the toothpicks or that the structure wouldn’t collapse.
5. Once you’ve made a sturdy base, you can begin crafting the nest. You could introduce some other materials here if you want - string, pipe cleaners, twigs. Remember - birds use whatever materials they can find to build their nests and you can too!
6. Test out your nest! How many Peeps can your child’s nest hold?
Note: To make the challenge easier, the nest could be on the ground. You could provide more recycled household materials or organic materials collected from the yard to help build the base or the nest, but we kept it simple with our design. The most important thing to have fun! STEM skills like engineering, math, and science skills are just a bonus.