Candy Cane Bridge STEM Challenge

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The candy cane bridge STEM challenge will have your kids scratching their heads! Using only candy canes, they will need to construct a sturdy bridge that can withstand some weight. Can they beat the challenge?

Candy Cane Bridge Challenge (5)

Your kids may have constructed a bridge out of marshmallows and toothpicks, and perhaps gumdrops and toothpicks. But building a bridge out of candy canes? That is one interesting STEM challenge for this holiday season.

This candy cane bridge challenge consists of two levels. The object is to get the animals (or cars if you prefer) from one side of the bridge to another without the bridge collapsing. The bridge must hold the weight of the animals.

The first level, or easy level, is having the two sides of the bridge close enough together that the two ends of the candy cane can rest on the sides. The second level, or the more difficult one, is having the two sides far enough apart that you can’t just rest a candy cane on them. You can choose the difficulty level depending on your kid’s age.

Ready for this peppermint challenge that will have your kids scratching their heads?

Candy Cane Bridge STEM Challenge

Materials:

  • About 20 candy canes
  • Two boxes (or you can use a stack of books)
  • Animal figurines or cars
Candy Cane Bridge Challenge Materials

Instructions:

Easy level: 

1. Place the boxes so that both ends of a candy cane can rest on the boxes. 

2. Ask your child to build a bridge sturdy enough for the animals or cars to cross. 

Candy Cane Bridge Challenge (1)

3. Place the animal or car on the bridge to test the bridge. Did the bridge collapse? If so, ask your child to think about why it collapsed and make improvements.

4. Continue until your child successfully builds a bridge to help the animals get to the other side.

Hard Level

1. Place the boxes so they are far enough apart that a candy cane cannot touch both boxes at once.

2. Challenge your child to build a bridge that connects the two boxes and can hold the animals’ weight.

3. After the bridge is completed, test the bridge by placing animals one at a time on the candy canes and see if the bridge can hold the animal’s weight.

Candy Cane Bridge Challenge (3)

4. If the bridge collapses, discuss with your child why it happened and how he or she can improve the bridge.

5. Continue until your child successfully builds a bridge to help the animals get to the other side.

Candy Cane Bridge Challenge (4)

How did your child do? The easy level was too simple of a challenge for my 6 years old. He had fun doing it anyway! But within minutes he was able to construct a bridge and got the animals across.

Candy Cane Bridge Challenge (2)

The hard level was much more difficult than I imagined! This one took my son a very long time to figure out, and the bridge must have collapsed at least a dozen times before he found a solution. And I have to admit, I did not have an answer for him.

Together, we figured out that in order for the bridge to hold the animal’s weight, we needed enough candy canes stacked on both sides of the boxes on top of the candy canes that were forming the deck of the bridge. Otherwise, when you place the animal in the middle of the bridge, the weight of the animal would bring the entire candy cane bridge down.

This candy cane bridge challenge not only tested my son’s patience, but also his creativity and problem-solving skills. In the end, he was the one who figured out how to position the candy canes so to form a bridge. He just needed a little help from mommy to ensure the sides have enough weight so the bridge does not collapse. 


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