Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Marshmallow Challenge


Last year at the PLA Conference in Indianapolis, I watched a group of librarians take part in the Marshmallow Challenge.  It was so awesome that I knew that it could be a whole program at my library.  Today was that day!

To run your own Marshmallow Challenge, you will need:
  • 20 pieces of spaghetti per participant or team (2 oz. of spaghetti=60 pieces)
  • 1 yard of string
  • 1 yard of masking tape
  • 1 marshmallow
 My total cost for this program was $3 as I had string (well, yarn) and masking tape on hand.
Registration & Set-up
We preregistered 20 7-12 year olds as that is what our Activity Room could hold.  I made sure to roll up the carpet (because marshmallow does not easily come out of carpet!).  Since we are low on staff this week, I prepped each set of supplies ahead of time.  I put the marshmallows in at the last minute so that they didn't get stale.

I also measured out the masking tape right before the program and hung it off of our cabinets.

The Program
At the beginning of the program, I went over our rules:

  • The challenge lasts 18 minutes.
  • You can work together, but can only use 1 set of supplies.
  • The paper bag does not count as a supply.
  • The tallest freestanding structure at the end of 18 minutes is the winner.
I passed out the supplies and called out "GO!" as I started my stopwatch app on my phone.  I called out various times with how much time was left.  As the kids were having so much fun, some of the adults wanted to play too.  I had a few extra kits so they started their own challenge.

Our tallest structure ended up being 29 inches.  We talked about how all of the tall structures built had good bases to support the height.  The kids even cleaned up afterwards!

As parents left, they were raving about the program and planning their own Marshmallow Challenges.  I gave them the idea that they could also build structures with mini marshmallows and spaghetti noodles and it was like a light bulb went off in their heads.

We're already planning on when we could do the program again!

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