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Heart Jelly Beans Structure STEM Challenge

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Looking for a STEM challenge that’s both fun and edible? Your kids will enjoy this jelly bean hearts STEM challenge! Teaching different aspects of science doesn’t have to be boring or only by the textbook.

By incorporating relatable STEM challenges, your children can learn by using a hands-on approach.

3-D pyramid STEM challenge project made with jelly bean hearts and toothpicks.

What is a STEM challenge?

If you’re new to the world of STEM then you may not be familiar with STEM challenges. In a nutshell, a STEM challenge is a project that innovatively gets kids to explore, design, and test a variety of questions.

These questions will typically fall into one of four subject categories: science, technology, engineering, and math. And in most cases one project can cross multiple subjects.

Benefits of Using STEM Challenges in Your Homeschool

There have been many methods created in recent years that have given homeschoolers the ability to think, teach, and learn outside the box. One of the strategies rising in popularity is using STEM challenges as a way to help teach (or reiterate) specific concepts taught.

Beyond adding a unique approach to homeschooling, other benefits of STEM (and challenges) include:

  • Improving problem-solving skills.
  • Fostering creativity.
  • Encouraging experimentation.
  • Enhancing differentiation.
  • Meeting different development needs.
  • Accommodating a variety of learning styles.

There’s so much more I could add to the list, but these benefits are often overlooked when it comes to using challenges, games, and projects as effective ways of teaching and learning.

Overall, using STEM challenges in your homeschool will be something you won’t want to do without!

Recommended STEM Books for Kids

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3-D pyramid on a blue plate made by connecting heart-shaped jelly beans and toothpicks.

Jelly Bean Hearts STEM Challenge

The best part about this STEM challenge is the fact that it’s edible. Once your kids finish with their projects, they can be rewarded by eating it. Before getting into the how-to of this challenge, let’s first talk about the science behind it.

These will make interesting teaching points while setting up the project.

The Science of Jelly Beans

Looking at and feeling jelly beans they appear to be semi-hard in texture. Apply a little pressure and they can easily be smashed between your fingers. They also come in different colors; however, for this challenge you’ll most likely have red, pink, and white ones for a Valentine’s Day theme.

Speaking of the chemistry of jelly beans, they are made from a combination of: sugar, tapioca or corn syrup, and pectin or starch. Minor amounts of the emulsifying agent lecithin, anti-foaming agents, an edible wax such as carnauba wax or beeswax, salt, and confectioner’s glaze are also included.

Each of these ingredients can start a research project of their own, but for the sake of this experiment, it’s good to know what ingredients are used to make the jelly bean texture.

3-D pyramid on a blue plate made by connecting heart-shaped jelly beans and toothpicks.

Building Structures with Jelly Beans

For this STEM challenge, your kids will be given the opportunity to create a variety of structures using jelly beans and toothpicks. Encourage them to tap into their inner engineer and let their creative juices flow.

How to Make Jelly Bean Hearts Structures

STEM Challenge Supplies

For this STEM challenge, you’ll need just a few supplies:

Jar of toothpicks, glass bowl filled with heart-shaped jelly beans, and the start of connecting jelly beans to toothpicks to make a STEM challenge project.

Directions

Provide jelly beans and toothpicks for each child.
Instruct the children to create structures using the jelly beans and toothpicks.

Provide them with time to brainstorm structures and extra time to build. Some kids are visual learners and may want to draw something on paper first.

You can also write some structure ideas on pieces of paper and have them draw one to try to build. A few ideas for that are: a home, box, triangle, or a two-level box.

STEM Challenge Learning Points

Using the scientific method for this challenge, you can build a mini learning unit to enhance your kids learning experience. For starters, have your kids make an observation by looking at how many jelly beans and toothpicks they have. Then, ask them questions such as:

  • What do you imagine building with your jelly beans and toothpicks?
  • Will it be a flat structure or 3D structure?
  • How many corners do you want your structure to have?

Once they have answered the questions, help them form a hypothesis and make predictions about how the structure will turn out. The only thing left for them to do is test it out!

Final Thoughts about the Jelly Bean Hearts STEM Challenge

This challenge, and others like it, are a great way to take learning outside the box. Beyond the teaching and learning moments, it’s also a great time of bonding with your kids.

This is a STEM challenge that can be used for any holiday (just change up the color and shapes of jelly beans) and you can switch up the candy.

Instead of jelly beans consider using marshmallows, gum drops, or any other soft-ish candy. It’s a perfect way to add hands-on learning in your homeschool.

Other Valentine’s STEM Activities

Geometric Heart by Teach Beside Me

Valentine’s Day Coding Activity by Little Bins for Little Hands

3D Heart Marshmallow Structure by Messy Little Monsters

More Science Activities

Simple Valentine’s Day Slime Recipe

Fizzy Heart Science Experiment

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