Geodesic Gumdrops: Candy and Toothpick Architecture

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This hands-on activity shows you how to build basic architectural shapes out of toothpicks and gumdrops. Learners explore how different shapes are more stable than others, and are introduced to ideas about "stretching and squashing"--that is, about tension and compression.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • a bag of gumdrops (or mini marshmallows, partly cooked beans, or bits of rolled-up clay)
  • a box of round toothpicks


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Murphy, Pat ; Klages, Ellen ; Shore, Linda


  • All rights reserved, The Exploratorium, 1998