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Ready, Set, Go! Plastic Cup Challenge!

The challenge: to stack as many cups as possible in 10 minutes. Cups can only be touched by a rubber band and strings—not your hands! 


Fourth graders in Pamela Clapes and Jazmine Pryce’s class are working on puzzles or problem solving skills through a new student wellness program called Second Step. The program includes 20 fun and interactive lessons that teachers can share with their students in just a few minutes each week. 


First students prepare a plan or a goal that will help them meet the challenge. 


“Let’s stack our cups with four on the bottom, then three more, then two cups, and one on top,” said Sofia Perez.


“I think that is do-able,” said Ivy Harrison.


Ready, set, go! The clock starts ticking.


“Be careful, don’t knock over the cups,” said Nicholas Flores as his group started moving red plastic cups with the string rubber band contraption—no hands!


“We are using a supervisor to watch the situation and tell us how to move,” said Evelyn Salazar Martinez


“I have an idea,” said Teddy Mallozzi, “we should mix in the smaller cups with the bigger ones so the stack is more stable.”


“We have to flip the cup!” exclaimed Joseph Moglia.


“Let gravity help,” said Jamie Russo.


As the groups work, it becomes clear that communication is key to successful cup stacking.


“We kept talking to each other throughout,” said Nina Waters, “We completed our goal and got ten cups stacked in ten minutes.”


“If you hit roadblocks along the way, that’s ok," said Pryce, “let’s use this as a point of reflection. Maybe you need to change your plan or rethink your strategy. What’s working and what’s not working?”


Do students understand the object of the exercise? Absolutely! It’s all part of the lesson.

“We are practicing setting and finishing a goal. So that when we are older, we will know what to do,” said Jamie Russo.