For this weeks post I wanted to do something of my own. I work at the YMCA for the summer day camp program as one of the teachers/counselors. This past week we did an activity at camp that I thought was awesome and wanted to share. I know the students were doing math without knowing it in this activity and I wish I would've had time to talk to them more about it. Any way here is what we did.

## The Marshmallow Challenge

I work with the 8-9 age group at camp. These campers are your average group of kids from a third/fourth grade classroom. Some are very interested in math and physics and others aren't very interested at all. The funny thing is through doing the marshmallow challenged we tricked these kids into doing math and physics at camp. We split the campers into groups of 5 and then gave the students 20 strands of uncooked spaghetti, an arms length of string and tape, and scissors. Then we explained to them that they had exactly 20 minutes to build a tower/sculpture to hold up a marshmallow as high as possible. Whichever group of campers created the tower to hold their marshmallow the highest off the ground or table won! Those were the only rules/guidance we gave the students. We didn't give them the marshmallow until 15 of the 20 minutes were up. I was very impressed with the things these kids came up with. This group of students made a pyramid like structure with the spaghetti. Next they attached 4 stacked spaghetti on top of that pyramid sticking straight up. They tied the string to the top bar of the tent we were under and then stuck the marshmallow on top of the vertical spaghetti. |

These students were so excited and proud of their structure, and I think they ended up being our winners. I was very proud! I talked to one camper after in this group and asked him how he came up with this idea. He told me "the bottom triangle thing was very strong. The marshmallow kept falling over at first when we got it so then we used the string to hold it up!"

This next group used a cube as their base. Keep in mind that we never told the students to create a shape or anything. This was all their own creativity!

They next used the remaining spaghetti to create a pyramid figure on top of the cube to hold up their marshmallow.

I think they also ended up taping the string to the table and tying it to the top for more stability. This structure was a little wobbly, but it still held up the marshmallow in the end.

These girls worked great together and told me they "really like cubes." I'm not sure where their love for cubes came from, but I thought it was quite hilarious and cute.

I was very impressed by the construction of this figure as well. These campers are all-stars!

They next used the remaining spaghetti to create a pyramid figure on top of the cube to hold up their marshmallow.

I think they also ended up taping the string to the table and tying it to the top for more stability. This structure was a little wobbly, but it still held up the marshmallow in the end.

These girls worked great together and told me they "really like cubes." I'm not sure where their love for cubes came from, but I thought it was quite hilarious and cute.

I was very impressed by the construction of this figure as well. These campers are all-stars!

Lastly, we have a structure that could not hold up the marshmallow at first, but in the end it survived. These students used only 3 spaghettis for the original base of their structure. They then taped the diagonal 2 spaghettis to the top of this base. When these students got their marshmallow they could not get it to stand up. But one of them brilliantly decided to use the string as a stabilizer on the bottom of the structure. Some how tying all these spaghettis together in a knotted mess provided enough structure for the marshmallow to stay.

I thought this was awesome. These kids had to problem solve to find out how to fix their falling marshmallow and they were able to persevere and find a solution.

I thought this was awesome. These kids had to problem solve to find out how to fix their falling marshmallow and they were able to persevere and find a solution.

I cannot tell you how fun it was as a math educator to watch this process of building a marshmallow tower. These students really blew my mind and put their brains together to come up with some awesome stuff!

There were 2 groups I wasn't able to picture because their structures didn't make it very far. The first had a problem with an angered student continuously knocking down the structure whenever it wasn't working out. The other group made a very very tall spaghetti tower that was just a single one sticking out of the ground taped to more as it builded up. As you might guess this tower didn't make it very far.

I think it was exciting for the students to have free reign on building their spaghetti towers. Often at camp we like to provide a ton of structure throughout the day with activities and rules for safety and such. This activity gave the students freedom to use their creativity and explore their strengths. I think that children crave these opportunities and this is why they got so engaged in the activity.

I think this activity could be extended by providing either more materials or less materials. The marshmallow could also be substituted with a heavier object to provide for a much more challenging task.

Anyway thanks for reading about the math we did at the YMCA. It was a ton of fun and I was glad to be a part of this activity at camp.

There were 2 groups I wasn't able to picture because their structures didn't make it very far. The first had a problem with an angered student continuously knocking down the structure whenever it wasn't working out. The other group made a very very tall spaghetti tower that was just a single one sticking out of the ground taped to more as it builded up. As you might guess this tower didn't make it very far.

I think it was exciting for the students to have free reign on building their spaghetti towers. Often at camp we like to provide a ton of structure throughout the day with activities and rules for safety and such. This activity gave the students freedom to use their creativity and explore their strengths. I think that children crave these opportunities and this is why they got so engaged in the activity.

I think this activity could be extended by providing either more materials or less materials. The marshmallow could also be substituted with a heavier object to provide for a much more challenging task.

Anyway thanks for reading about the math we did at the YMCA. It was a ton of fun and I was glad to be a part of this activity at camp.