STEM Tuesday– Architecture– In the Classroom

From an early age, children are fascinated with building. Whether it’s with wooden blocks, LEGO bricks, or Magna-Tiles, kids love to create.  For many, this enjoyment doesn’t wane as they get older. My thirteen year old son’s favorite pastime is building his own LEGO MOCs (My Own Creation). Many incredible books have been written to inspire budding architects and demonstrate how their passion can be turned into an art form in the real world using STEM. These books can be used as a springboard for classroom discussions and activities.


Wild Buildings and BridgesWild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired By Nature by Etta Kaner and Carl Wiens

This books shows young readers how many architects look to nature to find organic ways to solve building challenges. It features a greenhouse inspired by termite towers, a conference center inspired by an armadillo, and apartments made out of recycled shipping containers. The book also highlights the people behind some of the designs. A handful of activities are included to get young architects building.

Classroom Activity: Have students choose one of the architects mentioned in the book, including Koen Olthuis, Frank Gehry, or Frank Lloyd Wright. Research this person to find out what other buildings they’ve designed. What inspired them? What challenges did they face? What makes their buildings noteworthy?


Maya LinMaya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin

This book introduces students to Maya Lin, an incredible artist, architect, and environmentalist. Told in chronological order, each chapter highlights one of her designs and is named after the medium she used to create it. Young readers may be surprised to learn that she designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial when she was still in college! Photographs and design sketches interspersed throughout the text will give students a more intimate look at this accomplished woman.

Classroom Activity: Give students an even closer look at Maya Lin by sharing an interview with her. In In Conversation with Maya Lin, Maya reflects on her life and ongoing work and how her childhood shaped her commitment to the environment. In Maya Lin: WONDER Artist Talk, Maya talks about the importance of the natural world in her art, architecture, and memorials.


Adventures in Architecture for KidsAdventures in Architecture for Kids: 30 Design Projects for STEAM Discovery and Learning by Vicky Chan

This book will soon become one of the most popular books in your classroom. Students will enjoy trying out some of the many awesome building challenges, like making a house for a cat out of corrugated cardboard, twine rope, and glue or creating a structure that can withstand extreme weather conditions using water, flour, salt, and sand. Each activity uses common household items and incorporates math, history, engineering, and/or natural sciences. And students will learn that architecture is about more than just making buildings; it’s about solving some of our world’s most important problems, like climate change, pollution, and social inequality.

Classroom Activity: Take students on a Virtual Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio Taliesin West. Here, they will see the form and function of building materials he used and learn more about organic architecture.


Hopefully, these books and activities will inspire your students to design, build, and create.



Jenna GrodzikiJenna Grodzicki is the author of more than twenty fiction and nonfiction children’s books. Her books include Wild Style: Amazing Animal Adornments (Millbrook Press 2020) and I See Sea Food: Sea Creatures That Look Like Food (Millbrook Press 2019), the winner of the 2020 Connecticut Book Award in the Young Readers Nonfiction Category. Jenna lives near the beach with her husband and two children. In addition to being a writer, she is also a library media specialist at a K-4 school. To learn more, visit her website at




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Jennifer Swanson
Science ROCKS! And so do Jennifer Swanson's books. She is the award-winning author of over 40 nonfiction books for kids. Jennifer Swanson’s love of science began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. While no longer working from the garage, you can find Jennifer at her favorite place to explore the world around her.
Jennifer is also the creator and administrator of #STEMTuesday and #STEAMTeam2020