Intro to Design for Function: Spaghetti Tower

What does it mean to design for function?

30 min

Outcome(s): At the end of this lesson,  learners will come to see how collaboration and communication are key to successful designing for function.


  • Journal
  • Journal Prompt
  • Scissors

For each student group:

  • 20 spaghetti sticks
  • 1 large marshmallow
  • 1 yard of masking tape
  • 1 yard of yarn

Teaching the Lesson:

1. Launch

Objective: After watching a video on the engineering process, the learners will engage in discussion on the parts of the engineering process..

2. Explore

Objectives: Working in teams of 3-4, students are given 18 minutes to build the tallest freestanding spaghetti stick tower holding a marshmallow on top.  Students begin with sketching and sharing ideas.  As the timer runs out, students sketch their tower in the journal identifying the key parts and purposes.

3. Summarize

Objective: Learners will engage in whole class discussion on how they did at collaboration and communication.  Towers are compared to draw out key design principles that led to successful towers.