Let’s just say that day two of year two was amazing! The $2.95 I spent on supplies for the marshmallow challenge activity was money well-spent! I hope this becomes an annual activity for the first week of school.

When my students entered the classroom, they saw this message on the Smart Board.

## The Marshmallow Challenge

Of course, they instantly wanted to know what The Marshmallow Challenge was. Even more than that, they wanted to know if they got to eat marshmallows…

I used the following slide to explain the rules:

I learned about The Marshmallow Challenge from watching this TED Talk. The premise is simple. In groups of four, students are given 18 minutes to construct the tallest tower possible using 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard tape, 1 yard string.

The tower must be freestanding, and it must support a marshmallow. The marshmallow must be the highest point on the structure.

I had so much fun just walking around and eavesdropping on the conversations that ensued as students discussed the best way to build their towers. I liked that there was a clearly defined time limit because it forced my students to really focus.

And before I share with you the results, I have to tell you about what I learned. Some people eat dry spaghetti. I fully expected my students to ask to eat the extra marshmallows. But spaghetti?

Here are some of the results:

I loved where my students were going with this tower, but it definitely did not remain standing after they let go.

This team argued that they should win an award for building the sturdiest tower even if it wasn’t the tallest.

The Second Highest Tower of the Day: 64 centimeters

This is another tower with impressive height that immediately collapsed.

This 9 centimeter tower was the only tower that actually remained standing one class period.

The Tallest Tower of the Day: 64.5 centimeters

## More Fun Activities for the First Week of School

- Game of Sim
- Number Contests for the First Day of School
- Circle Tic Tac Toe
- Ultimate Tic Tac Toe
- Left Center Right Dice Game
- First Day of School Activities 2021
- 40+ First Week of School Activities
- Let’s Make Squares Activity
- Getting to Know You Dice Activity
- Master Designer
- Save Fred Activity
- Ink Stain Matching Activity
- Make Six Puzzle – Number Challenge
- Lonesome Llama Activity
- Survival in the Desert Groupwork Task
- Two Buckets Puzzle

devil

Monday 28th of August 2017

Was there a specific math concept you were trying to teach with this activity?

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 5th of September 2017

No math content. Just trying to get kids interacting and working in groups during the first few days of school before starting specific content.

Anonymous

Thursday 26th of February 2015

Interesting....

Unknown

Friday 23rd of August 2013

If they broke one of their spaghetti while working would you just replace one?

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 27th of August 2013

I probably wouldn't just because I want my students to plan ahead. If their design requires every single piece of spaghetti, they are taking a major risk. And, risks should have potential consequences. But, I think that's completely up to you. :)

Unknown

Friday 23rd of August 2013

This is a wonderful first week of school activity! It helped me determine which students could work well together in groups . Thank you so much for sharing ! I did this with my 7tg grade pre-algebra classes, and they absolutely loved it ! It was the talk of the day ! Out of all my classes , the tallest structure built was 54 cm... Which was constructed by a class filled with predominately special needs students .

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 27th of August 2013

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I'm so glad you and your students enjoyed the activity!

Anonymous

Thursday 22nd of August 2013

I completed this activity in my Algebra 1 classes this week (Algebra 2 tomorrow!) and they LOVED it! I *cheated* a little as they received 4 marshmallows. It was a great class builder. The highest free standing structure was 36.5 inches. Thanks for the tip!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 27th of August 2013

Thanks for sharing! My students were begging for more marshmallows. Maybe we could revisit this activity at the end of the year and try it with more marshmallows. Hmm...