The Little Learning Warriors at Arsenal Elementary learned a little about industrial engineering through a STEM challenge, where they were given the task to design a package to keep a s’more from getting ruined when submerged in water for five seconds.

To begin the lesson, the students were lead in a discussion around the prompt: “Imagine you’re at the grocery store.  Picture all the different foods on the shelves with their bright and colorful protective packaging.  Pick one food and really picture it.  How do you think that food item was made?  Now think about the packaging that protects that food.  Why does it have a wrapper or container around it?  What does it do?”

As the students considered ways that food is packaged and why, the instructor explained that there is an entire STEM field dedicated to protecting food and keeping it fresh, and that they would get to try their hand at designing a package for a s’more that would keep it dry when placed in a pitcher of water.

As a twist, the students also attempted to create the packaging for the lowest “cost” of materials.  They were given the following theoretical prices for the supplies available to them:

  • Paper towel – $1 each
  • Cardboard square: $5
  • Aluminum foil: $5 per square
  • Wax paper: $3 per square
  • Plastic wrap: $4 per square
  • A lot of tape: $4
  • Medium amount of tape: $3
  • Small amount of tape: $2

Divided into 3 or 4 students, each group submerged their packages in a pitcher of water for 5 seconds, and unwrapped their s’mores to find out if they succeeded in the challenge.  Together everyone discussed which packages worked best, which failed, and brainstormed on what could be done to make the packages more effective and cost efficient.

The Little Learning Warriors excelled at the challenge that combined a lesson on design, engineering, budgeting, and everyone’s favorite snack: s’mores!