Candy Jar - Michael Murphay 7551 @Pixabay

Air Force One Needs You!

Challenge: Using only card stock and duck tape!

History and a Time Hop

I love history and that is what the “H” represents in the STEMHAX acronym. We incorporate it in every STEMHAX STEM packet we create.

History doesn’t have to be boring. It can be fun and integrated into many lesson plans. Kids can be exposed to fun lessons that will stick with them forever and a day! If we can provide young children, the opportunity to learn a few extra things here and there, they will become more interested in history. It is equally, if not more important to integrate American history, as often as possible. As Ronald Reagan said in his Farewell Address speech in 1989, “If we forget what we did, we will forget who we are.” We can’t let this happen!

This engineering challenge can be incorporated into a memorable history lesson, too. The Easter STEM digital download was inspired by “Pete the Cat Big Easter Adventure.” When I read the book, I learned that Pete the Cat loves jelly beans, and they are his favorite candy (at Easter anyway). I knew immediately, Ronald Reagan would be the history part of lesson, because of his love of jelly beans.


Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States. His term of service began on January 20, 1981 and finished on January 20, 1989. He was known as the Great Communicator. His speeches are still relevant and have a lasting impact on both American and world history. Ronald Reagan loved America and believed in preserving freedom. The three speeches that stand out in my mind are:

1986 Challenger Explosion Speech — 1987 “Tear down this wall..” — 1989 — :Farewell Address

This blog is to help you prepare for the engineering challenge lesson. These videos are for adult viewing (some kids would like to watch these – use your own discretion). They are meant as a reminder of how special Ronald Reagan was to America, and to help elevate some excitement as you share this engineering challenge design.

Here are a three quick videos for your viewing pleasure.

Click on flag to watch (3:40)
Ronald Reagan PBS (1:24)
Retired Air Force One Boeing VC-137C is at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.


Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans. His favorite brand was Jelly Belly. As a matter of fact he was responsible for the increase in Jelly Belly sales. Mr. Reagan had jelly beans delivered to his home on a regular basis. He took them every where he went and shared with everyone. Here is a video clip of Ronald Reagan in a very important meeting. Notice the jelly bean action. Who cares what is being said, it is all about the jelly beans!

President Reagan had jelly beans in most rooms throughout the White House. He even had a special jar of them on Air Force One.

Budget meeting November 5, 1984 (1:42)

Let’s travel back in time (use a wormhole if that makes it more interesting) to 1986. You, President Reagan and your students are on Air Force One. Everyone has boarded the plane and it is a smooth takeoff. All of a sudden the Secret Service realizes the jelly bean jar is MISSING!

Everyone is frantic. President Reagan needs his jelly beans. The Secret Service asks for your help. Can you create a candy jar that will hold the President’s jelly beans? The president needs his favorite jelly beans,especially the licorice flavored. Oh, and the materials are limited on Air Force One.


  • One piece of 8.5″ X 11″ Card Stock
  • Duck Tape
  • Scissors
  • One Paper (for design idea)
  • Markers
President Reagan Air Force One – see the missing jelly bean jar, next to the fruit.

There are so many ways to make a jelly bean jar from these materials. Here is how we constructed our jelly bean jar.


  1. Design on paper, using the one sheet of paper and the markers.
Sketch of jelly bean jar.

2. Cut the card stock into four equal pieces (you will only need three).

3. Pre-cut several 6″ strips of duck tape.


4. Place a strip of 6″ tape, sticky side up, on the table. Place one of the pieces of card stock on top of the tape.


5. Place another piece of tape on the table, sticky side up. Place the first piece of card stock and tape on top of the second piece of tape, with a slight rotation at about 2 o’clock.

6. Add a second piece of the card stock over the first piece of tape. This will make a cross pattern with the card stock pieces.


7. Make a fold on all four sides of the card stock, towards the center. This should form a box shape.

8. Size, form and tape.

Make a lid, too!

9. Place tape on one of the pieces of card stock.


10. Slightly bend card stock and cut 1/2″ slit in the middle.


11. Fold a small piece of tape for the handle. Push half way through slit and tape, tape, tape.


Step 12 Test your jelly bean jar.

Jar works perfectly and passed the jelly bean test!

There is no way to make a wrong jelly bean jar. I do not profess to be an engineer. The point of the this blog post is to show you, the teacher, what I did. Kids will use their own creativity and critical thinking skills to create their own jelly bean jar.

The problem solved. Air Force One now has a jelly bean jar and your young learners have saved the day!

Kids enjoy story telling and this little fiction tale might inspire excitement to engineer a really cool jelly bean jar. They can work together in groups to see what they can design and create. Once completed, the students can share how they made their projects and discuss the strategies they used.


Creative Writing: Once they are finished with the jelly bean dish. Have them create a story about what happens after the jelly bean jar is made.

Math: Compare jelly bean flavors. Graph and tally the class or family favorites. Guess the flavor jelly bean.

Science: See the science experiment blog page…CLICK HERE

Art: Create a mosaic art…see guides page…CLICK HERE

Thank you for reading this blog. Engineering challenges can be fun. I hope you are excited to try this one and incorporate some history into the lesson. We have created a hands on pack, about jelly beans, and this is the engineering project. Included are many other great resources. If you are a classroom teacher you can visit our TpT Store. Have a wonderful day! See you soon.

Science & Engineering and More! Digital Download $2.00

“You can tell a lot about a fellow by his way of eating jelly beans.” – Ronald Reagan