First, each group had to begin cutting and assembling the bags according to what design they decided would work best. A few groups asked and received permission to look up designs on the Internet.
Some groups cut strips that were too small to go into the design, which usually resulted in a request for more shopping bags in order to start again. Some groups built webs that looked almost like the original shopping bags. They were redirected to consider what an actual spider web looked like. Other groups got into layering their spider web, with each layer consisting of tied or woven strips of plastic bag. At least one group member had to be encouraged to collaborate with their group members to see what design they thought would be best.
The best performing spider web held 16 books.
Afterwards, students had to record their findings on a follow up worksheet.
Students were also instructed to research topics related to their project. Some research topics that were listed for students, but not limited to, were: What is the strongest, lightest material in the world, what spider webs are the strongest, largest suspension bridges, other inventions that require suspension technology, and materials that make up suspension bridges. My 5th graders had to look up at least 2 facts with a webpage reference. A few students were allowed to present their findings.
In the end, it was a fun experience! My 5th graders were able to work in groups, build self esteem, create designs that used common household items, research and apply what they learned to their world, and also got a chance to get out of their seats! Awesome!