My daughter recently came home with a very unusual request. “Would it be OK if I built the Eiffel Tower out of marshmallows?” she asked. First, since she is eight I had no idea she knew about the Eiffel Tower. Second, this seemed like such an odd but specific request that I felt compelled to learn more. It turns out that at her school, prior to getting on the bus for the ride home children are assigned bus rooms which, during regular school hours, are regular classrooms. Her bus room is a third grade classroom and, after a little digging, I found out that in third grade students are asked to build the Eiffel Tower out of a material of their choice. Therefore, for a few weeks this school year she saw various Eiffel Tower projects, one of which was made of marshmallows.
She had a very elaborate plan in mind, complete with tooth picks, plates, and of course, marshmallows. Wanting to do this on her own, she struggled with creating a design and going through the pains of trial and error. Luckily for her she was able to temper the frustration with an occasional treat from the package of ‘building materials.’
The great thing about this exercise was that she worked with her hands, had to overcome obstacles, and most importantly, had to think and reflect on how she was doing the task. In fact, when she did ask for some help, we even tried melting some of the marshmallows to form a stronger structure.
This project mirrors what we at iCreate are so passionate about – education through meaningful hands on learning. While the cries of budget cuts are loud, it should be noted that this project cost about one dollar and touched on math, history, physics, engineering, art, and geography. In addition, she spent well over an hour building her structure and now wants to learn even more about the Eiffel Tower and designing structures in general.
The kicker? When I was drawing a picture of the Eiffel Tower for my eight year old, my six year old, who also goes to the same bus room each day, came over and said, “wait, you forgot the arches at the bottom.” Kids are paying attention and they want to take what they see and bring it to life. Let’s make it easy for them to do that.