Design by Marshmallow

2015-04-20 cub scouts outreach

NOTE – tonight is the first in my series #thisisMYstem.  In these posts, I want to highlight aspects of how STEM is used in my everyday life.  Enjoy!

Tonight I had the opportunity to spend some time talking to some local cub scouts (and their sisters) about STEM. It is so cool that the scouts have a patch program for STEM now – they’re really keeping up with the times.

First, the young gentlemen and I spent a few minutes talking about science and careers in science. Of course, they were super interested in robots and all the different forms that robots can take. Can robots look like dogs, or fish, or Baymax?  I’m really glad my sisters recently introduced me and the kids to Big Hero 6, so I could understand the kids’ point of view. And, I’m so thankful to Disney for making a movie about scientists that portrays them as diverse individuals with unique, interesting personalities.  (My sisters tell me I’m just like Honey Lemon!)  I recommended the boys and their parents check out the this big dog robot video on YouTube.  It’s a cool example of a real-life animal robot in action.  This video is put together by TARDEC and highlights many of the robots used in military applications.  Detroit is actually a big area for robotics – TARDEC is based right here in Warren!

Next, we talked about how science works – what is a hypothesis, how do you test it, etc?  And of course, the best way to understand is by doing!  What’s even better than doing?

Using yummy food as your learning medium!!

Look at these brilliant little hands at work!

Look at these brilliant little hands at work!

The kids teamed up, with simple instructions to build a marshmallow building.  It was amazing that each group took a different approach to building, and that every child started with a different vision.  It was also interesting to see the dynamics in how each group worked together (or not!) to build their designs.  The final products (or what was left of them after snacking) were amazing!

We wrapped up by circling back to the hypothesis concept.  The kids had an idea (or hypothesis) in their head of how to build their structure, and they experimented by trial and error to see what methods worked and what didn’t to get to their final marshmallow buildings.  The kids wrapped up their night with a paper airplane contest.  How fun!

kids are amazing at thinking out of the box!

kids are amazing at thinking out of the box!

Of course, all of the marshmallow building made for one very hungry STEMinista.  Since it’s cold and rainy today, s’mores were out of the question, but the second best option was rice krispie treats – yum! I couldn’t wait to get home and whip up a batch! Watch out food bloggers – I took that yummy marshmallow picture (but don’t feel too threatened – you’ll notice there are no beautiful pictures of my finished product!).  Rice Krispie treats were a huge thing in my house growing up.  I have one sister who prefers very marshmallow-y treats, and one who prefers very not-marshmallow-y treats.  Entire vacations have been ruined in fights over marshmallows.  I am sorry to report that neither sister would be impressed with my culinary expertise tonight – my snacks didn’t turn out very well.  At least the cub scouts and I had fun tonight!

UPDATE: My kids took one look at my rice krispie treats and informed me that they no longer like rice krispie treats – ha!  At least I know how to make cookies – next time I’ll have to come up with a cookie themed project.

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