towers

Owl and Rabbit are good friends and live in two small houses next to each other. They are perfectly happy . . . until Rabbit's garden gets in the way of Owl's view. So Owl builds his house a little taller. Only that blocks the sun from Rabbit's vegetables. So Rabbit builds his house taller. And soon it's a house-building frenzy and the two now not-so-good friends have the two tallest houses in the world!

tallhouses.jpg

MATERIALS

​Simply Suggestions:

  • pipecleaners

  • straws + strawbees

  • popsicle sticks

  • Wikki Stix

  • pasta + string + tape + marshmallow (see below)

  • toothpicks

Constraints

design challenge

ASK

How can you build the tallest house that will not fall down? 

Students should engage in a Driving Questions Board to elicit ideas and ask questions about what they need to know to answer this question and solve the problem. Students should focus their questions around materials, structure, and stability. 

PEOPLE

Given that the characters in the book are animals, students may choose an animal that would be living in their tower and consider what that animal would need. Other considerations may be ideas that they view as important in a skyscraper or a home. 

IMAGINE

Students will begin to draw on background knowledge and experience to think about ways to approach the challenge and solve the problem. They may gear their tower design toward a skyscraper and associate with tall buildings, apartment buildings, or a home for an animal. Allow class discussion of considerations and ideas. This stage may involve some exploration with materials and ensure understanding of the constraints. 

Your Choice: 

  • Must be at least 24 inches

  • Must withstand an earthquake (shake the table)

  • Must stay standing for 24 hours

  • Must hold the weight of a beanie baby (whichever animal they choose)

PE aligned

Including, but not limited to: 

  • This aligns to more SEPs and CCCs than DCIs​

PLAN

Working in teams, students draw a diagram of their solution. This should include indication of materials and labels on their design. If notebooking, all students should have the design in their notebook and be able to communicate their plan. This should be thorough enough that any other group could follow the plan.

Teacher Tip: Consider grouping students based on the animal that they select or the material that they select. Sometimes it is easier for students to collaboratively plan if they do not have to compromise on the material they are using.

Consider: If this is meant to be a quick tower challenge, you may consider letting them skip the plan and see how they think in the moment while creating. 

CREATE

Students must follow their initial plan using the materials they outlined. Hold them accountable for giving their first design a chance. This thought varies, some feel that they should be able to change it as they see flaws, but I tend to hold them to their first submitted plan. 

Teacher Tip: If students are using pipe cleaners, consider giving each child a different color and they are only able to touch their own color pipecleaner - this ensures all students are engaged in the building. 

TEST

This step will depend on the success criteria that you set. Typically set this as a time activity, and so at a specific time you may measure for height requirements. If this challenge is related to stability, then shaking the desk as an earthquake may be the test. Another layer of stability, is being able to stand for over 24 hours (or set another amount of time). 

ITERATE

This step is critical to students persevering. Be sure to allow them to make tweaks and test again, or even revisit their plan. This is a reflective piece, and a great time to circle back to thinking about the user. 

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