2 x 45-minute Periods
Individuals or 2 Students
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 with freebuilding. Students work in teams to brainstorm an idea from a sketch and then are challenged to transform it into physical model.
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.
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.
If there are various age ranges in the group, print out different sets and have the students pick from the appropriate age range.
Have a set of scissors handy for students for trimming and sculpting structures.
Place containers of materials to the side of the room until students are ready to build.
Have additional small caddies or bowls around the room on desks or the floor to collect cut or broken straws pieces to save for future projects and help with cleanup.
Begin by asking your students what are examples of inventions used.
Ask the class if they have sketched or wrote an idea down. Then ask if they made their idea physical.
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.
Introduce the building materials your students will use for creating prototypes in class: drinking straws and Strawbees!
Show a premade 2D triangle in front of the class to show as an example then build another 2D triangle to show students how to use Strawbees and straws. Demonstrate the best way to insert a Strawbee leg into a straw.
For a warm-up, pass out a few Strawbees and straws to everyone and challenge students to build a square in 1 minute.
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.
To start building Strawbees structures students will have to learn about designing a base to support their structures. They will modify and use their 2D square as part of their base.
Introduce a prebuilt cube and a pyramid as the 3D versions of the square and triangle an examples.
Give students about 20 minutes to transform the 2D square into any 3D shape that can stand tall without falling down.
Mention that the structures that were just built do not stay stationary and can become kinetic with a set of hinges and locks called the Hinge and Friction lock. The Tension lock is for holding a Straw through the head of the Strawbee in place with a 1-Legged Strawbee squeezed inside and holding it all in place.
To save on time, present a simple Strawbees example with the image above with at least 2 friction locks. and tension lock to secure loose joints on structures. You can refer to the Strawbees Booklet on how to build these as practice before teaching your students.
Using only Strawbees and straws, you will be giving your students an open-ended prompt for them to build a prototype for the second half of the lesson.
Challenge your students to invent something for an astronaut to travel with through space.
Have students set up their structures on tables for a showcase. Have everyone wander around the room to see what students have made.