This is a very popular activity to do with children; specially in hands-on projects involving engineering, science, maths, and technology, like the activities centered in what is called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) education.
After making this activity I can see why building a structure with spaghetti is such a success. Besides the fact that they loved to eat raw noodles, they looked like having fun. I believe they had a very good time, and it is even possible that they had learned something in the process. This activity was real-world problem solving and it is based in the engineering design process.
They had to build a tall or a large structure that would stand on its own. We talked about the Eiffel tower structure that was built out of small metal parts and reaches 300 meters. We discussed the shape and geometry of these large and light structures because this would be key to what they were going to build. They used play dough as joints to hold the spaghetti together. It looked easy, but they could see for themselves that it is more complicated than it seems. The spaghetti can be weak and at the same time can be really strong. It is a matter of geometry, balance, and design; and they tested all that while making these superb structures. They were working on strength and stability in a structure, testing what did and did not work, identifying the problems they were having, and solving them right away.