Gingerbread House Construction & Competition [STEAM Activity]

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Gingerbread house construction is an excellent teaching and team building opportunity! In years past, UCLA hosted a “Engineering the Perfect Gingerbread House Event,” highlighting several important engineering concepts that can be reinforced through the hands on activity of building a gingerbread house.  Concepts discussed dove into the molecular construction of the materials and the physics of the structure.  Read the full article by Catherine Hu here, Engineering the Perfect Gingerbread House.

Brown University School of Engineering hosts a similar annual event, The Extreme Gingerbread Competition.  Students in this competition focus on How to Build an Indestructible Gingerbread House.  Recommendations shared by Ben Schafer, chair of the department of civil engineering at John Hopkins, included keeping corners square and ensuring the roof is centered and evenly square.  Schafer and former Brown University School of Engineering student, Erica Kahn, agreed that the icing used to hold the structure together can make or break a build.

If strength is your goal, Kahn suggests substituting melted down caramel, gummy candies, and marshmallow for traditional icing.  Stating that once melted, the substance is tacky and glue-like, but becomes a very strong, cement-like substance when cool.

For those who might not have time to gather a lot of ingredients, there are Gingerbread House Kit options available!

Create Limitations & Unique Challenges for Individual & Team Builders!

  • Time limitations can put on the pressure
  • Round Robin – Allowing each team member to take a turn adding one piece at a time gets everyone involved
  • Handout Floor plans/Architectural Structure Challenges for Imaginative Reconstruction
  • Give each team member a specific role – foreman, cement mixer, builder, decorator
  • Who can create the tallest structure?
  • Who can build an “Indestructible” structure? – Find Creative ways to Stress Test! (Dropping from Varied Heights, Adding Weight/Pressure)
  • Create stories about the structures – topics may include the potential usage of the structure or creative tales about their residents.
  • Most importantly — Work Together and HAVE FUN!!!

Share your projects on the Gingerbread House Engineering post on STEAMpunks.online Collaboratory Facebook Page or in the comments below!

For those local to the Cecil/Harford County Maryland area – consider submitting your Gingerbread House Projects to The West Street Village Ginger Bread House Competition!

West Street Village will be hosting a Gingerbread House Contest. The public is invited to creations for a chance to win a gift basket packed with prizes from the merchants of West Street Village.

Contest Rules:

1. All houses must be received between December 4th thru the 8th to be judged on 2nd Saturday December 9th. Winner to be announced December 10th.
2. All material used to decorate the house must be edible.
3. NO KITS.
4. You may use cardboard or some other materials as the foundation for your walls, floor and roof only!

There will be 3 separate categories: Adults, children up to age 13 and 14 to 17. Same rules apply. Drop off at West Street Village. Woody’s Crab House to sponsor a $25.00 gift certificate to the children’s category for use at the restaurant or ice cream alley. Adult winner wins a basket of goodies donated by WSV merchants.

Please contact West Street Village with any questions regarding the event!

Cheers! –L8Dtremaine @ST3AMpunks

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