Introduction to Strawbees

Introduction to Strawbees

Introduction to building shapes with Strawbees.



Duration: 2 x 45-minute Periods

Class Size: 30 Students

Group Size: Individuals or 2 Students

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.

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.


  1. Using Strawbees and construction pipes 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 construction pipes 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 construction pipes pieces to save for future projects and help with cleanup.

Lesson Steps

1. Introduction

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

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 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 construction pipes. Demonstrate the best way to insert a Strawbee leg into a construction pipe.

  • Hold the head of the Strawbee in your hand with the leg pointing up. Then pinch the end of the construction pipes and push down.
  • The Strawbee will slip in easier and won't cause the construction pipes 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

10 minutes


For a warm-up, pass out a few Strawbees and construction pipes 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

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.

  • Transforming their 2D ideas into 3D shapes and also be structurally 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.

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

5 minutes


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 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

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.

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

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.