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Kids get creative with marshmallow structures

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By Gabe Stern
Hometown Weekly Intern

Over 15 kids between the ages of 5 and 8 were challenged to think like engineers last Wednesday, July 27 at the Needham Public Library as part of a Marshmallow Construction Competition. During the competition, the largest free-standing structure made of 20 marshmallows and 25 toothpicks would be deemed the winner.

The competition, hosted by Children’s Librarian Veronica McCarthy, was nothing new to the Public Library. Along with organizing various summer reading events geared toward children entering elementary school, McCarthy also makes sure to organize hands-on library events that involve elementary school kids.

While finishing up his structure, one child had the idea of using a square base. Photos by Gabe Stern

While finishing up his structure, one child had the idea of using a square base. Photos by Gabe Stern

“We try to have at least one craft a month for ages 6 and up because a lot of the story times also come with a craft,” McCarthy explained. “So we try to have something that’s geared for a little bit older [kids].”

To stimulate the kids’ minds, McCarthy built several mini-structures made of different shapes and had the kids examine which structure would provide a sturdier base. Through this, the kids could test what would and wouldn’t work before they started building.

Despite this being a competition, many kids decided to work together on their structures or build them just for fun. McCarthy described the informal event as “not a standard recipe,” highlighting that the importance of learning and creativity outweigh the competitiveness of the final objective.

“It’s creative thinking … They’re going to be able to do pretty much whatever they want,” McCarthy clarified.

While many of the kids got right to building, some investigated which shapes would be the most supportive. On each table was a handout with a picture of the CN tower, explaining that cylinders and triangles were the most supportive structures. With support from McCarthy, many of the kids built their structures with these shapes.

For the children in attendance, this may have been a fun, seemingly light-hearted competition.

The goal of the program however, was to stimulate the kids’ problem-solving and creative thinking skills through lively competition.

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