Structures - 3 Pigs

Activity Language
Grade
Time Needed for Activity
Students build 3 houses - one of straws, one of sticks, and one of bricks - and then test each for strength.

In this activity, students will learn about what a structure is, why structures are built and what materials can be used to make structures. Students will get to build three different structures, made of different materials (one of straws, one of sticks, and one of bricks), to determine which material was strongest. Similarities and differences to the houses in the story of the 3 pigs are highlighted. 

You may also want to consider leading this activity in a Storytime format (i.e., read the Three Little Pigs story first and then do the activity).

What You Need

Materials needed if they are being provided to the school:

  • 24 2-inch pieces of paper straws per student
  • 24 toothpicks per student (with the sharp ends cut off)
  • 24 wooden bricks per student
  • Tape roll with dispenser per student (unless they can share)
  • PowerPoint slide with the 3 pigs' houses

Materials if they are NOT being provided to the school:

  • 24 2-inch pieces of paper straws or 2 inch strips of paper rolled into cylinders per student
  • 24 toothpicks per student (with the sharp ends cut off). Could use other sticks from outside if toothpicks are not available.
  • 24 small wooden bricks or Lego bricks
  • Tape
  • PowerPoint slide with the 3 pigs' houses

PowerPoint:

Lesson Plan:

 

Safety Notes

Ensure you are familiar with Let's Talk Science's precautions with respect to safe delivery of virtual outreach to youth. These precautions can be found in the manual for this activity. 

What To Do

Do you think you’re ready to be an engineer today and build your own houses? [yes!]

We’re going to use 3 materials that are similar but also different than what the 3 pigs used.

Have the educator distribute tape and straw pieces to each student.

Show them how to build the straw house.

  1. Lay 6 pieces of straw in a row on their table/desk.
  2. Take a piece of tape longer than the row of straws and place it across the top of the straws.
  3. Turn the straws over and put another piece of tape on the other side. 
  4. Follow 1-3 again to make 4 sides that are the same. 
  5. Lay the 4 set of 6 pieces beside each other with a very small space between each set.
  6. Put a piece of tape across from two of the sets, then the next two sets until all sets are joined with tape.
  7. Turn it all over and do the same on the other side.
  8. Pick it up and put the straws on the table/desk and fold each into a square and tape the last set together to make a square house.
  9. If they have books, they can now test for strength (or they can press down). 

Next, let's check out these sticks (show the toothpicks) and see how strong they.

Have the educator distribute 24 toothpicks to each student and have them follow the same procedure as the straws and test the strength. 

Finally, let's check out these bricks and see how strong they are. Have the educator distribute the wooden bricks/legos to the students and have them follow the same procedure as with the straws and toothpicks and test the strength. 

Which material proved to be the strongest? Which material would you build your house with? 

Discovery

Investigate Further

If you would like to continue this lesson with students, have them use an assortment of materials to determine who can build the tallest tower that can support a small object (e.g., toy car, whiteboard eraser, etc.). This can also give you the opportunity to discuss which shapes are the strongest. 

Investigate Further

If you would like to continue this lesson with students, have them use an assortment of materials to determine who can build the tallest tower that can support a small object (e.g., toy car, whiteboard eraser, etc.). This can also give you the opportunity to discuss which shapes are the strongest. 

Resources

PowerPoint:

Lesson Plan:

 

Resources

PowerPoint:

Lesson Plan:

 

Check out additional resources (articles, career profiles and more) on these topics from Let’s Talk Science: