Lesson Plan

Introduction to Strawbees

Introduction to building shapes with Strawbees.

Author
Lindsay @ Strawbees
10-13
Art
Engineering

Duration

2 x 45-minute Periods

Class Size

30 Students

Group Size

Individuals or 2 Students

Overview

In this lesson students and teachers will be introduced to the different Strawbees connectors and explore how to build shapes from an idea. This exercise is for students to discover the capabilities of Strawbees in freebuilding. Students build on ideas and add moving joints to encourage motion in Strawbees sculptures and then are challenged to transform it into physical model.

Materials

Construction pipes
200
1/2 sized Construction pipes
200
1-Legged Strawbee
100
2-Legged Strawbee
100
3-Legged Strawbee
100
5-Legged Strawbee
100

Modifications

Lesson Split Time

Depending on needs, this lesson can be split and taught in two 45-minute periods. With a 15 minute break seperating two sessions for a break or clean-up. An additional 15 minute session at the end is for clean-up.

Learning Objectives

Familiarity with the building capabilities using different Strawbee pieces.

Comprehend spatial reasoning about 2D to 3D shapes and how to manipulate objects in space.

Learn the techniques of construction with Strawbees such as hinges, joints, and locks.

Collaborate as a team to build on the ideas of others and transform them into visual models to come up with a solution for a challenge.

Work on problem-solving skills by rapidly prototyping their ideas and focus on fine-tuning their top idea to present.

Preparation

1

You can precut a set of 1/2 and 1/3-sized construction pipes for the class to use for lessons.

2

Place containers of materials to the side of the room until students are ready to build.

3

Have additional small caddies or bowls around the room on desks or the floor to collect cut or broken construction pipes pieces to save for future projects and help with cleanup.

Lesson Steps

1. Introduction
Duration:
5 minutes

Begin by asking your students what are examples of inventions used.

  • Share invention examples such as nails and a hammer, the car, scissors, shoes, paper, and more.

Ask the class if they have sketched or wrote an idea down. Then ask if they made their idea physical.

  • Using materials such as paper, wire, tape, cardboard, clay, or anything else.

Explain to students this is a process that inventors often use to make their ideas come to life by brainstorming ideas and building prototypes until they make something that works.

  • A prototype is a draft of an idea.
  • Prototyping does not always mean they will make just one and will often make many versions!
2. Introduction to Strawbees
Duration:
5 minutes

Introduce the building materials your students will use for creating prototypes in class: construction pipes and Strawbees!

  • Introduce the different types of connectors: 1, 2, 3, & 5-legged Strawbees.

Show a premade triangle and pyramid in front of the class. Demonstrate the best way to insert a one-legged Strawbee into a straw.

  • Hold the head of the Strawbee in your hand with the leg pointing up. Then pinch the end of the construction pipe and push down.
  • The Strawbee will slip in easier and won't cause the construction pipe to bend.
  • Encourage students to bend Strawbees' legs if they need to as they are very flexible!
  • Share with students that you can also stick Strawbees into each other and listen for the click!
3. Warm-Up Challenge

For a warm-up, pass out a few Strawbees and construction pipes to everyone and challenge students to build a pyramid structure in 3 minutes.

  • Reveal that you will share how you built the pyramid after your students build their own.

At the end of time, have students lift up their creations to share for everyone to see, then lift up yours. Let your students know that sometimes they figure out how to build something by experimenting and trying many different ways to build.

  • Emphasize that there is no wrong way to build with Strawbees because there are different ways to build shapes using different Strawbee pieces together.
4. Building Bases

To start building Strawbees structures students will have to learn about designing a base to support their structures.

  • They can modify and use their pyramid as part of their base.
  • Snap Strawbees into the head of other Strawbees to make joints for shape corners.

Introduce another prebuilt example such as an Octohedron or Isohedron.

  • Refer to the Strawbees Booklet for instructions on these geometric shapes.

Give students about 20 minutes to transform increase the height of the pyramids made into something that can stand tall without falling down.

  • Like the warm-up, everyone has different ways to build these shapes.
5. Present Challenge

Using only Strawbees and construction pipes, you will be giving your students an open-ended prompt for them to build a prototype for the second half of the lesson.

  • If your students are working in pairs, they will have to work together to build one prototype.
  • They will present their prototypes and process at the end of class.
  • The structures they built from the first half of the lesson can be used as part of their prototype.

Challenge your students to build the tallest structure they can that does not fall down and has an element of movement.

  • They can use an invention that already exists.
  • Examples are: a swing set, a windmill, a satellite dish, a ferris wheel, a building with a sliding door, etc.
  • This is only a prototype and it doesn't have to work perfectly.
6. Building Session
Duration:
25 minutes

Let students know they have around 20 minutes to build a prototype then present to the class in a showcase. Before you let your students get started, share another capability of Strawbees: movement.

Present to your students the head of a Strawbee and slide a construction pipe through. Insert a Strawbee on both ends of the construction pipe to show how to keep Strawbees from sliding off.

  • This can help students think about building wings, spinning wheels, and other elements of movement required for transportation.

Show students how to make a friction lock with 3 one-legged Strawbees.

  • You can refer to the Strawbees booklet found at the bottom of the lesson plan on how to build these as practice before teaching your students.
  • Helpful for making joints like arms or controlling a range of motion.

Pass out materials and watch your students build!

  • For students working together, encourage them to divide a project into parts.
  • For example: a swing set can be built seperately by the base and the swing then placed together.
  • For students that finish early, can have them write a brief description of what they made to display with their structures.
7. Showcase
Duration:
15 minutes

Have students set up their structures on tables for a showcase. Have everyone wander around the room to see what students have made.

  • You can have everyone around the room share with their neighboring classmates.

Vocabulary

Strawbees
Plastic pieces with a head and legs used for connecting construction pipes and to other Strawbees.
Strawbees Head
The rounded portion of the Strawbee with the hole to allow support for both construction pipes and the legs of Strawbees.
Strawbees Leg
The connectors that can be inserted into a construction pipe or other Strawbee pieces.
Fold
The ability to bend so that one part covers the other.
Innovation
The improvement of an existing idea, product, or process that might result in something new.

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