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Hands-on Activity: Engineering for the Three Little Pigs
Contributed by: Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder


The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate the importance of rocks, soils and minerals in engineering and how using the right material for the right job is important. The students build three different sand castles and test them for strength and resistance to weathering. Then, they discuss how the buildings are different and what engineers need to think about when using rocks, soils and minerals for construction.

Engineering Connection

Relating science and/or math concept(s) to engineering

When designing structures, engineers must understand the material properties of rocks, soils and minerals and how these properties change when mixed together. Engineers must also make sure that the rocks, soils, and minerals are strong and safe enough for the job. Other material constraints might include ease of manipulation and material expense.


  1. Learning Objectives
  2. Materials
  3. Introduction/Motivation
  4. Procedure
  5. Safety Issues
  6. Troubleshooting Tips
  7. Assessment
  8. Extensions
  9. Activity Scaling
  10. References

Grade Level: 3 (3-5) Group Size: 3
Time Required: 90 minutes
(two class periods, spaced a few days apart)
Activity Dependency :None
Expendable Cost Per Group
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