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Engineering task with tubes and straws

What you need

  • Some empty cardboard tubes
  • Paper straws
  • Child-friendly scissors


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) experiences have many benefits – they promote creativity, critical thinking and provide the opportunity for your child to take on a challenge in their own way. This open-ended experience has no right or wrong answers so is the perfect way for your child to have freedom in their explorations.

The experience

Provide a range of cardboard tubes, ideally different heights and sizes (you could trim some down if you don’t have a variation in height available) and some straws. You may like to make some holes in the tubes at different levels, or for older children you could support them in doing this themselves. 

If your child is confident using child scissors, they can trim their straws to the desired length, or alternatively, prepare these for your child, giving them lots of different lengths to choose from. 

Let your child explore how they could connect the tubes by using straws. Leave it as an open-ended task- what could you build? 

Discuss the construction as it begins to take shape, asking your child what it is, how they are planning to connect the pieces, etc. This is also a great opportunity to develop mathematical vocabulary as you discuss long/short/tall and other size-related language.