STEAM at Home: How Strong is Spaghetti?

How strong is spaghetti? In this STEAM project, we’ll use a foam block as a base for long strands of dry spaghetti. Then, we’ll balance various objects on top of the spaghetti to see how much weight it can support. This is a great opportunity to test out different variables and see what happens!

For this project, you only need spaghetti and a piece of foam. I didn’t have styrofoam, so I used a yoga block instead. You can begin by taking a piece of spaghetti and pushing one end into the foam block, letting it stand alone. Have your child bend the spaghetti for sensory engagement. Next, you can begin to add more spaghetti to the styrofoam.

You can practice math skills as you count the number of pieces it takes to balance different objects (light books, a Lego block, a heavier book). If you have wooden blocks you can use them to also create a bridge with the spaghetti. You can also try placing another piece of styrofoam on the top of the spaghetti and balance your objects on the top of the styrofoam as demonstrated in this blog post.

Continue to add as much spaghetti as needed and try to balance a few objects on top of your spaghetti structure!

Questions to think about:

  • How many pieces of spaghetti would it take to balance a very light book? What about for a heavier book?
  • Would our spaghetti structure be more sturdy if we placed the spaghetti closer together?
  • How does the length of the spaghetti affect its ability to support objects?
  • How do the size and shape of the item affect its balance, in addition to its weight?
  • What is the least amount of spaghetti needed for the lightest object?
  • If you have a scale you can weigh the objects and record your observations.

OverDrive Resources:
Yasmin the Builder by Saadia Faruqi
How can Yasmin find an inspiration for her new makerspace project when all of the ideas already have been taken? After a walk, Yasmin comes up with a wonderful idea that everyone loves! This book includes words in Urdu as well as a section on problem solving for young curious minds.

Minecraft Engineer by Megan Miller
Fans of Minecraft will enjoy building more structures including rods, irons, and farms. This book encourages kids to think creatively and learn how to problem solve as they learn new tips, tricks and secrets to becoming a Minecraft Engineer.

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Strega Nona is a classic book that has enchanted many with its magic. Big Anthony looks after Strega Nona’s house and decides to recite a spell, which creates a big mess. A wonderful book that children and adults will treasure.

Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Ada has a lot of questions about the world around her. Why does it tick? She asked and her parents wondered how to help Ada and her brilliant mind. Even her teacher allowed Ada to make a mess as she created…she was a young chemist! Ada asked more questions about the world around her and luckily her parents continued to support her curiosity!

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