We’ve been trying some different things with our co-op building class over the last few weeks. We started out with several weeks of Instant Challenges, and while the kids love those, a few of them are having trouble thinking 3 dimensionally. In an effort to work on that, we pulled out our KEVA Planks (thankfully the church we hold our co-op at has an amazing stash of them!) and got to work.
Challenge #1: Build the tallest structure using only a 1” block as the base.
The premise for this was very simple. Each group received a stash of 30 1” wooden blocks to use in their structure, but could only use ONE block as the bases for the building. They were given ten minutes to build the best one.
We broke up into four groups and the kids started working. They had a fairly unlimited pile of KEVA blocks and the challenge wasn’t just to build something tall, they needed to be sure their structure wouldn’t tip over. A few figured out that building on the carpet was a bit more uneven, so platforms were constructed using KEVA planks as well.
There were groans and yelling as different groups took the lead – only to have their structure teeter precariously and tip over.
The building because fast and furious as kids started jumping up and comparing heights of structures (it was hilarious).
Two teams were neck and neck until one was brave enough to carefully stand another KEVA plank on top of their team structure – and it held! (Barely, mind you, but it held!)
Challenge #2: Build a structure that has an overhang without support.
For this challenge, the kids had free reign on how many KEVA planks they used and each child could choose to work on a team or individually. There were a few that decided to go it alone, but most worked together. Each group or individual had a few minutes to discuss and 10 minutes to build. At the end of our time, we went around the room comparing structures and making suggestions on how it could have been improved (or what a great job they did!).
Others had a solid core, but had difficulty getting their structures to extend out further without support.
And others just went for a cool design and had fun building up as well as extending out.
This one had a great start, but ended up collapsing on the neighboring structure and demolishing both (that would be my kid).
A few of the kids built out from a central core and found a way to balance and support the planks so they extended quite a ways out without needing a support from underneath.
Challenge #3: Two challenges from the KEVA Brain Builders
Each week we have also been working on two challenges from the KEVA Brain Builders set. Essentially it is a set of 30 puzzle cards where one side shows a two-dimensional drawing of a structure from different angles and the flip side shows a completed structure. The kids are given a card and 3 minutes to build the structure.
The challenges are quick and make the kids work hard to beat their friends (and a little friendly competition is fun), especially since they don’t know what the completed structure is supposed to look like. There are three different levels of difficulty, so each week we have been working our way through the levels to build confidence and speed. These KEVA Brain Builders cards have been another fun addition to the class, especially for those that need a little confidence building in the 3D area.
Don’t Miss These STEM Challenges
Looking for a few hands-on STEM activities for your kids or class? Check out these below: