The Big Treehouse
This is a 12-story treehouse located in Marshalltown, Iowa. The engineering structure is very intricate in order for the treehouse to be stable and sturdy at the top.
Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions
- What construction strategies might help this tall structure remain sturdy?
- What environmental factors might affect the height of this structure + how might we be able to eliminate those factors?
- Students can work in small groups to build the tallest structures possible out of materials they find in the classroom - Students can then participate in a small competition using popsicle sticks to build a replica of the treehouse with the goal of making the tallest treehouse in the classroom
- Setting classroom guidelines will be important (ex: treehouse needs to be able to stand up on its own). Teachers can support students by reminding them of construction strategies used to build the 12-story treehouse. They should also encourage students to focus on building a sturdy base before building more levels. After students have completed their model, the treehouses will be tested to see if it can withstand different environmental factors
- Environmental factors can include:
- Placing a fan on the treehouse to replicate wind.
- Throwing a writing utensil at the treehouse to replicate a tornado.
- Supporting the weight of a textbook on top of the treehouse for at least a minute without breaking
- *If the student’s treehouse does not pass any of the tests, then they can reevaluate their designs and make the treehouses sturdier.
Try Engineering- Tall Tower Challenge: This website lists everything needed to complete a tall tower challenge. It also provides an introduction video about the challenge.
Teach Engineering- Straw Towers to the Moon: This is another engineering challenge, this time with straws. This website is amazing and provides various worksheets to use within the lesson.
The Big Treehouse: This website gives all the information about The Big Treehouse in Iowa. One very interesting aspect is it contains a map of the layout of the treehouse.
PBS - Building Big: PBS has a lot of great resources for ‘building big’. This website contains a lot of different challenges, with supplies needed, for students to conduct their own engineering process.
Iowa Core Alignment3-5-ETS1-3:
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Submitted by Ella Brase and Macy Harris
Photo by Jennifer Ciha, Field Trip Iowa