Second graders in Tanya Becker’s class at Ann MacArthur Primary School were tasked with protecting the Three Little Pigs from the Big Bad Wolf by building a house that could withstand the huffing and puffing of the predator. Could they accomplish this using only mini marshmallows and toothpicks? Ms. Becker was sure they could if they worked together  - and they proved her right.

The activity fit into the STEM curriculum as participants used relevant skills to complete the task. First, they brainstormed ways to build the house. Then, they predicted whether or not they believed that their creation could be blown down. They also compared their model to the houses created by the pigs in the story and described the materials they wish they had when building the house.

In addition to planning the project, the young builders also needed to do the actual construction, collaborate and then reflect on their work. Their grades on the project were determined by a rubric that included each of these factors. A printout of the wolf was taped to a large fan and each house was subjected to the force of the wolf’s blowing.

Ms. Becker said that providing exciting projects for students to complete is the best way to reinforce the curriculum and get students to think creatively. “The entire class was enthusiastic about building the best house for their little pig and therefore they used all the skills we’ve learned to complete the task with success,” she explained.