Marshmallow Challenge: A STEM-Based Activity

For this program, small groups of children are given bags or large envelopes of materials. They have exactly 18 minutes to build the tallest structure they can using ONLY those materials. The structure must support the weight of the marshmallow when measured. The group with the tallest structure wins. Groups have a chance to repeat the challenge again within 13 minutes using a fresh bag of the same materials. They may manipulate any of the materials except for the marshmallow.

spaghettiMaterials needed:

  • 2 large bags or envelopes for each group of children (pairs or up to 5 kids per group) containing 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of string/yarn, and 1 marshmallow
  • 1 yard of masking tape per group
  • instructions/rules for each group
  • tape measure for instructor
  • timer
  • scissors for each group


The goal is to build the tallest, freestanding structure, with the marshmallow on top, using only the materials in the bag! The winning team is the one with the tallest structure from the table top (or floor) to the top of the marshmallow.

  • The entire marshmallow must be on top.
  • You don’t have to use everything in the kit.
  • You can cut or break any of the materials — except for the marshmallow.
  • You cannot use the bag or pieces of it.
  • When time is up, you must stop.
  • The structure must stand up by itself. It cannot lean against anything or hang from anything. No one in your group can hold it up.


Children will learn from their mistakes — as well as observe what others do. They’ll also learn the importance of working within a deadline. STEM skills stressed including simple physics, measuring, design process, and scientific inquiry.

Ages: Recommended for grades 3rd-5th, but can be used for any age groups.


–adapted by Mary Shannon Heuman,
Manhasset Public Library


One thought on “Marshmallow Challenge: A STEM-Based Activity

  1. […] into groups of 4 to 6 to plan their building strategies. The instructions and rules for the Marshmallow Challenge were given […]


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