Using the The Three Little Pigs as the basis, school librarian Carol Sweny challenged first-grade students with constructing houses to withstand the Big Bad Wolf (for this experiment, a handheld hair dryer). After reading the story, students were given a planning sheet to design their home and indicate the materials they would use--straws, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, construction paper, aluminum foil, Play Dough, and cellophane tape. Learning about cooperation was also part of the project.
Once the houses were completed, it was time to test their designs. Mrs. Sweny grabbed a hairdryer and set out to blow the houses down, but not before telling the students not to be sad if their house falls down. "Engineers learn more from their mistakes than from the projects they design that work right away. Once engineers know what doesn’t work, they can figure out the next step,” she told the students.