LGTA Tetrahedron Challenge
The Tetrahedron Challenge is a STEM activity designed to encourage youngsters to consider what it takes to construct a “building”. Firstly we discuss the amount of “building materials” required for our project (some simple sums are involved!). We then talk about some of the roles that involved in structural engineering/building, making the point that it’s not just for boys! We give detailed practical instruction in how to build the structure and we invite youngsters to work in teams to assemble the larger structures until we have a giant tetrahedron that is some 4 metres high (high ceiling required!).
As this activity is funded by the LGTA through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) there is no fee charged to schools. As the activity gives an insight into structural engineering it ticks a number of STEM boxes. The activity is suitable for pupils in Primary years 5 & 6 (KS2).
Raise awareness of Structural Engineering in the Construction Industry by asking youngsters, as a practical STEM exercise, to ‘build’ a large structure using only lengths of dowel and elastic bands.
The Tetrahedron Challenge has been designed to allow learners the opportunity to:
- Use and apply ideas related to design and planning.
- Discuss the building process and the jobs involved.
- Apply mathematics to a practical exercise.
- Apply design rules and understand concepts of compromise.
- Realise a modularly built construct.
- Complement, enhance and apply understanding in subjects such as Maths, Science, Design & Technology, Geography, English, PSHE, and Citizenship.
- Develop team building and collaborative working skills.
- Realise individual learning within the context of the group.
- Apply creative and lateral thinking.
This is typically a 90 min (including a break if required) practical exercise, although it can be achieved in 45mins if some elements are not included; the children will be working in teams. It is delivered by a STEM Ambassador (Construction) and involves discussion, Q&A, instruction and semi-autonomous working. The height of the final structure requires a high ceilinged room (eg school hall). For an example see http://www.swinderbyallsaints.co.uk/news/detail/the-tetrahedron-challenge/.