Build-a-Bird Beak STEM Challenge

What if you had to pick up all of your food using only your mouth? No forks allowed! You would probably get some strange looks from friends and family. You also wouldn’t be able to eat many of the foods you enjoy now. Imagine eating a taco without picking it up!

Most animals in nature use their mouths as tools as well as a gateway to get food into the body. Birds in particular have adapted a variety of shapes in their beaks to pick up different types of food. Some have small tweezer-like beaks for picking up insects, some have strong, sharp beaks for catching fish, and some have thick beaks for crushing seeds.

stem challenge bird beak
Image Credit: Shyamal_Jeff Dahl

How to do the Build a Bird Beak STEM Challenge

Challenge: Build a bird beak out of household materials.

Materials: Use what you can find – paper, staples, plastic utensils, rubber bands, popsicle sticks – whatever you think will work!

● Challenge Criteria: You will operate the beak with your hand, but no part of your hand should come in contact with the food. Also, the beak has to have a top and a bottom so it can open and close like a jaw. Other than that, get creative! You can take inspiration from nature or create something totally new.

Test Your Beak

After you build your beak, it’s time to test its ability to do its job – picking up food! Gather a few different kinds of food items and set them on a flat surface. Raisins, nuts, marshmallows, crackers, or any of your favorite snacks work well.


Which food types are easy to pick up with the beak you made? Which ones are more difficult? Are there any food types that would be impossible to eat with the beak you made?

Extension Activity

For an extra challenge, redesign your beak so it can easily pick up your favorite snack food!

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