Merry Christmas! This is the last of our holiday science. Use some of the sweets around your house to build gingerbread houses! You can either make your own gingerbread, or you can use graham crackers for your building. Before you start building, let’s learn a little bit about building structures.
What kinds of shapes do you usually see in houses? Think about the buildings you see every day. What shapes does your house have?
You probably can find circles, squares, and triangles in any building you look at. Walk around your neighborhood and record the kinds of shapes that you see!
What’s more sturdy, a square or a triangle? Test it out. Connect three marshmallows with toothpicks to create a triangle. Next, connect three marshmallows with toothpicks to create a square. Squeeze both shapes and try to move them around... which is more sturdy? You probably noticed that the triangle kept its shape better than the square. That should help you as you think about how to build your structure!
There are four things that every building needs to be stable and provide shelter:
1. Foundation: The base of the building.
2. Floor: The part of the building we walk on.
3. Walls: Defines the building, divides the building into rooms, holds up the roof.
4. Roof: The top of the building that provides shelter for the people inside.
Below is an example of a simple house structure. See if you can build one! Try out your own ideas with the shapes you’ve seen around your neighborhood. Be creative!
Here’s some examples of houses that we built with graham crackers last week!
* Gingerbread or graham crackers
* Royal icing (recipe below)
* Plastic baggies
* Paper plate or pan
* Assorted candies (licorice, chocolate candies, gum drops, and anything colorful works great!)
To make royal icing:
Using an electric mixer, combine 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of powdered sugar with 4 large pasteurized egg whites. Blend until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps of sugar. It should be stiff and sticky!
Here’s what to do!
1. Draw your building plan on paper first. It always helps to have a plan!
2. Spoon frosting into a baggie and seal it. Cut off just the tip of one corner of the bag. This will be your icing tool.
3. Break up your gingerbread or graham crackers into the shapes you want to use for your house.
4. Use a pan or paper plate for your construction area. Build your structure using your shapes for your structure and frosting for glue! If your building collapses, don’t worry! You can always try again. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right building technique, and it does take a while for frosting to solidify.
5. Once you build your structure, use candies to decorate your house. Have fun, and Merry Christmas!
Image and video credits, in order of appearance:
House diagram created by Dr. Erin Nyren
Photos taken by Maddie Van Beek