Fifth-grade students at F.E. Bellows Elementary School tested their design and engineering skills on Oct. 30 as they built the tallest marshmallow-topped towers they could out of spaghetti, tape and a string.

The challenge – which was part of the school’s Seekers and Solvers STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) workshops – was designed to foster creativity and collaboration among the students. Each group of students was given 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, five marshmallows and 18 minutes to complete the challenge. 

“The students used math skills to measure and convert yards to inches, and used logical thinking to decide how to best complete the activity,” said Susan Combs, a fifth-grade teacher and team leader. “The students were very surprised that there were no questions allowed and they could interpret the directions any way they chose.”

Combs said the students began to share ideas with each other and became very engaged and excited about their structures. Each student demonstrated different skills as leaders, builders, inventors and mathematicians while they were completing the challenge. Once completed, they reflected on the experience and the lessons they learned. 

“We put one marshmallow as a base and put two spaghetti sticks sticking out,” fifth-grader Fiona Fox said. “This was a great way to start. Each member had a specific job. We learned about teamwork and that it doesn't matter if there is a bad idea, we can learn from each others’ mistakes.”