Exploring Structures

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This event guide features three related explorations in which learners investigate the following science concepts: how you design and build a structure helps determine how strong it will be; different materials are useful for making different kinds of structures and different parts of structures; and, walls, roofs, and bridges need to be supported in special ways. Exploring Structures is one unit in the Peep Event Kit, which also offers explorations of shadows and ramps, respectively. The guide provides an agenda for a 1-hour science event, a customizable flyer and family handouts (English and Spanish). Learners can view a related Peep and the Big Wide World video story before or after the activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 6

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • plastic or paper cups
  • pieces of flat cardboard or poster board
  • stuffed animals
  • building materials (flattened cardboard boxes, small pieces of wood, paper towel rolls, tin foil, etc.)
  • masking or duct tape
  • pairs of boxes or stacks of blocks about 5" tall
  • stiff paper (manila folders) cut into 18” strips, about 2” wide
  • to support the bridge: toilet paper tubes, paper cups, blocks, craft sticks, clay, et
  • blue construction paper
  • small toy cars
  • picture book of bridges (such as Bridges Are to Cross by Philemon Sturges)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Mathematics
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • PEEP and the Big Wide World


  • All rights reserved, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0104700