Youngest Middle Schoolers Tackle Engineering Design Challenge

Last week, 5th graders were challenged to construct a free-standing tower that was at least 18 inches tall as an introductory exercise in engineering. Students were only allowed to use paper index cards, and had to work as a team of three or four to coordinate the delicate building process so that their tower would not collapse. To get the students thinking, Middle School science teacher Courtney St. Prix showed students images of famous buildings, such as the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in France and the Sears Tower in Chicago. The class exchanged ideas about what it is about each structure that allowed it to stand stably on it’s own. This, Mr. St. Prix explained, could inform their decisions in building their own model towers.


Ultimately, the tower had to not only stand on its own, but also hold the weight of a rubber duck placed on top for at least ten seconds. In the end, the tallest structure was 40 inches tall!