STEM Jellybean Structures

Jelly beans + toothpicks = an afternoon of engineering fun! My six year old has been learning all about 2 and 3 dimensional shapes in Kindergarten at school and building jellybean structures was a deliciously entertaining way of reinforcing her learning at home.

Want a printable version of this activity? Grab our toothpick STEM challenge cards!

What a fun STEM project for kids! Build jellybean and toothpick structures. Great engineering challenge!

We’ve done this activity before using marshmallows but those always proved frustrating as more complicated structures became unstable and collapsed.

The hard sticky inside of the jelly beans were so much better and made some seriously stable creations.

Be careful with little ones, the hard shell on the jelly beans can be hard to pierce.  While my 3 year old didn’t have many issues, the toothpicks could slip and poke little hands.

In the beginning, I didn’t give my 3 and 6 year old many instructions. I just wanted keep the activity open ended and let them to be as creative as they wanted to be.

I love these jellybean STEM structures. Such a fun engineering project for kids!

My 6 year old began by constructing a series of pyramids. She made a square first and then added the triangular sides.

As she built, we talked about what 2D shapes made up her 3D shape.  I’d ask her to count how many planes {flat surfaces} and how many vertices {corners} her pyramid had.

After making several pyramids, she moved on to making cubes, then joined them together to make a larger structure.

Awesome engineering challenge for kids! Build jellybean STEM structures.

At some point, she decided that she wanted to make a stronger tower.  She built a cube, a pyramid, and a prism and pressed down on each to see which was the strongest.  She thought the shapes that used triangles seemed to be stronger.

Great engineering project for kids! Make jellybean structures and test their strength.

So she began on her second tower.  At this point, I suggested testing which tower was stronger by seeing how many books each tower could hold.  And the stacking began!

I love this engineering project for kids! Build and then test the strength of different jellybean towers!

The first tower started leaning and the books slid off after eight books.

The next tower held a whopping 32 books before crumbling under the weight.  After comparing both towers we saw that the second tower was shorter and built with more precision.  We figured it was both of these things that helped make it stronger.

We built and tested our jellybean structures for a good hour.  It looks like we came up with a new equation for an awesome time!

Toothpick Challenge Cards

Want more inspiring engineering projects for kids?! Hop over and grab our Toothpick Challenge Cards!

2D and 3D toothpick and playdough challenge cards

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Hi, I’m Malia.

I love giving Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers easy-to-follow systems for getting EVERY student bigger results.

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