Pasta .... Shrinky Dinks... food coloring

When trying to think of something different for my students, I came across another art teachers blog, and got the idea to do a lesson dealing with pasta. The first class, the students learned how to die pasta using food coloring. I used three different kinds of pasta (all with holes). The students got around 35 pieces of pasta. The separated the pasta by the color they wanted them to be on their desks. Starting with the lightest color food coloring (yellow), the students placed the pasta they wanted yellow into their Ziploc bag. I came around and placed two drips into each bag. The students closed the bag and began to shake. They shook until they got the desired color. We repeated this for the next three colors. At the end I asked the students to pick one or two pieces of pasta from each color and place them back in the bag. Using the food color left in the bag, the students shook the bag once again to get multicolored pasta... (they loved this part). Place the pasta on a napkin with their names on it and set it aside to dry.

For the second half of the class we got away from art and learned to work as groups, while thinking creatively in the Marshmallow Challenge. I got this idea from . It was great to do something different. The kids had a blast and they learned how hard it is to work together on one thing with a time limit and a candy bar first place prize for the tallest structure. (little did they know that everyone was getting a candy bar).

Materials (per group of 2-4 students):
  • 20 - sticks of uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 - yard masking tape
  • 1 - yard string
  • (scissors for cutting the string)
  • 1 - marshmallow
  • a large digital timer that counts down (You can use your computer - download a free timer application for windows or mac.)
  • tape measure
(I recommend first watching the TED Talk video at www.marshmallow to familiarize yourself with this activity.)
1. Have students work in groups of 3 if possible (groups of 2 or 4 will also work), around flat tables or desks.
2. Give directions and repeat them a couple of times so that everyone understands what to do:
Students will have 18 minutes to work in their groups to build the tallest freestanding structure possible, using only the materials p
rovided. (The structure will be measured to the top of the marshmallow, so the marshmallow should be at the highest point of the structure!)
3. Start the timer and give warnings at 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, and 30 seconds. Then count down the final 10 seconds together.
4. When the time is up, measure all structures that are standing, from lowest to highest. (Structures may not be taped down and must stand on their own, without students holding them up!)

5. The team with the tallest freestanding structure gets a standing ovation! (Interesting side note: I was surprised to discover that only one student in my entire K-6 school knew what a standing ovation was!)

We started making the shrinky dinks today. Tomorrow we are going to be using the died pasta to make necklaces for our bug shrinky dink pendent. I'm really excited to see how they will turn out!


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