Introduction to Strawbees

Author
Lindsay @ Strawbees

Introduction to building shapes with Strawbees.

Art
Engineering

Duration

2 x 45-minute Periods

Class Size

30 Students

Group Size

Individuals or 2 Students

Overview

In this lesson students 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 free building. Students work in teams to brainstorm an idea then collaboratively to transform it into physical model.

Materials

Straws
200
1/2 sized Straws
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 and adding moving joints.

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

Using Strawbees and straws prebuild a set of 2D shapes: a square and triangle and a set of 3D shapes: cube and pyramid.

2

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

3

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

4

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.

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: drinking straws and Strawbees!

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

  • Hold the head of the Strawbee in your hand with the leg pointing up. Then pinch the end of the straw and push down.
  • The Strawbee will slip in easier and won't cause the straw 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. Building Warm-Up
Duration:
10 minutes

For a warm-up, pass out a few Strawbees and straws to everyone and challenge students to build a square in 1 minute.

  • Reveal that you will share how you built the square 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
Duration:
25 minutes

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.

  • Transfoming their 2D ideas into 3D shapes and also be structually able to support itself up.
  • Snap Strawbees into the head of other Strawbees to make joints for shape corners.

Introduce a prebuilt cube and a pyramid as the 3D versions of the square and triangle an examples.

  • Attached at the bottom of this lesson is the Strawbees Booklet for instructions on how to build a few geometric shapes.

Give students about 20 minutes to transform the 2D square into any 3D shape that can stand tall without falling down.

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

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.

  • 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 invent something for an astronaut to travel with through space.

  • They can build something to improve to an astronaut's spacesuit.
  • They can make a mode of transportation such as a rocketship, a rover, or part of a space station.
  • This can be something for traveling in space or on a planet's surface.
  • This is only a prototype and it doesn't have to work perfectly.
6. Building
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 straw through. Insert a Strawbee on both ends of the straw 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.

Pass out materials and watch your students build!

  • For students working together, encourage them to divide a project into parts.
  • For example: a rocket body and the wings can be built seperately and 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 straws and to other Strawbees.
Strawbees Head
The rounded portion of the Strawbee with the hole to allow support for both straws and the legs of Strawbees.
Strawbees Leg
The connectors that can be inserted into a straw 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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