STEAM Challenge: Build a bug and make it fly!

Bravo, bugs! Insects support humans and the environment. They keep pests in check, pollinate crops and clean up waste. In our Celebrating Our Planet STEAM Challenge series in partnership with SDG&E, we challenge you to create a bug with the insect parts listed below! Start with sketching a design for your insect. Then, use a paper towel tube as a base and build on top of it with other materials. Consider if your bug has a stinger and give it a name!

Insect Parts to Include: 

  • 6 Legs (3 pairs of jointed legs)
  • Antennae
  • Eyes
  • Wings for flying (Note: Not all insects have wings)
  • A surprise feature (e.g. It lights up at night)

Bug Build Challenge Tutorial



  • Cardboard tube
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape and/or Glue
  • Compostable straws
  • Bubble wrap
  • Markers
  • Yarn
  • String (for zipline)
  • Paper (for sketching)
  • Pencil
  • Googly eyes (optional)

Zipline Directions

1. Create a zipline. The force of gravity keeps all of the planets in orbit around the sun and pulls objects towards the ground. A zipline is a pulley system that uses the force of gravity to carry objects from one point to another.

2. Set up a zipline. Create your own zipline using string and tape, and experiment with making your insect move (or fly) down it. Attach one side of your string to a wall with tape. Then, thread the string through your insect.

3. Make your bug fly! Gently pull the other side of the string and make your bug move down it. Make adjustments to the zipline by changing its length, height and incline (the steepness of the line) to affect the speed of your insect’s flight. Ready, set . . . fly!

TIP: In order to allow your insect to travel down the zipline, you will either need to keep your body as one, hollow shape (the paper towel tube) or find another way to attach it to the zipline.


Congratulations on completing your challenge!

  • What did you learn while building your bug and zipline?
  • Share your discoveries with others!
  • Additional Challenge: Try this same challenge with another person!

Subject Area Connections and Standards for Grades K-2

Subject Area Connections (Grades K – 2)

Science: Biodiversity (parts of an insect); force of gravity
Technology: Tool use – scissors; online research sources
Engineering: Planning and design process; pulley construction
Art: 3D sculpture; reflection and presentation
Math: Measurement; data collection; addition and subtraction

Next Generation Science Standards (K – 2)

  • Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or
    direction of an object with a push or a pull.
  • Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Common Core Math Standards (K – 2)

  • Understand addition as putting together and adding to, and understand subtraction as taking
    apart and taking from.
  • Measure and estimate lengths in standard units.

National Core Art Standards (K – 2)

  • Through experimentation, build skills in various media and approaches to art-making.
  • Explore uses of materials and tools to create works of art or design.

Additional Video Resources

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