October 7, 2020

Can two people build the same thing by following directions?

A project you can do with a (virtual) partner

In science, like in life, it’s not enough to just have a great idea. You have to be able to clearly communicate that idea, too.

With this stay-at-home activity, you will flex both your engineering and communication muscles as one you think up an object, build it and then describe it to a friend or family member to see if they can successfully recreate the same object.

This activity is great for family social distancing inside their home, but can also be fun way to virtually interact with friends and family living elsewhere!
It will take about 10-15 minutes of preparation for this activity and learning time will be around 45 minutes. This activity is best suited for children who are in elementary or middle school.


  • Building Toys: LEGO bricks, Tinker Toys, K’NEX, etc.
  • Craft items around the house such as pipe cleaners, pom-poms and craft sticks
  • Recyclable materials like tissue paper, newspaper, grocery bags (paper or plastic), toilet paper rolls and old shampoo bottle


  1. Find a partnerThis activity must be done with a friend or family member, but that person doesn’t have to be inside the same house. This activity is easily conducted over Facetime, Zoom, WebEx or Skype.
  2. Grab some cool things. With your partner, try to find some interesting materials around the house. If you are working with someone in another house, make sure the materials you use are the same or very similar at each of your locations.
  3. Think it up. On your own, look at the materials you gathered and think of some different things you could build. Write out your ideas and then choose one. Once you have selected your chosen creation, draw out the design.
  4. Build it. Without your partner looking, build your object. Challenge yourself to use the materials in new and different ways.
  5. Describe it. Once you successfully built your object, it’s time to write out a description of your object and how to build it. Help your partner by first explaining what it should look like when it’s finished. Then describe, step by step, how to create your object. Be sure not to include any drawings, symbols or examples. Your words should be descriptive, clear and easy to understand. Once you are happy with your description and directions, give them to your partner and instruct them to build the same object you did by following your detailed instructions.
  6. Swap. Take your partner’s instructions and try to build the object they’ve described.
  7. Share and compare. Together, share what each have built. Did you each successfully recreate the other person’s object? What is different between the two? Looking at your objects and the descriptions that were given, how could the instructions have been written differently to ensure both objects were identical? If you want, modify your instructions to make them better and try it again with another person.
  8. Show it off. We’d love to know how well you and a friend did. Tag us and use #MyDiscoveryPlace to show us your objects in side-by-side photos on social media.