Here’s another quick and easy STEM challenge coming your way! The classic 100 Cup Tower Challenge is another one of the simplest STEM challenges to set up right away and covers many age ranges! Add our free cup tower PDF printable and you’re good to go with your engineering and math lesson today.
This specific STEM challenge can be completed in a short amount of time with younger kids, but you can also add layers of complexity to it for older kids! Add this one to your resource of awesome STEM activities and you’ll always be prepared!
100 PAPER CUP TOWER CHALLENGE FOR KIDS
WHAT IS THE 100 PAPER CUP STEM CHALLENGE?
In all honesty, it doesn’t need to be 100 cups! Whatever you have is fine. You know the ones left over from birthdays or that last family party. If you need to buy a bag that’s ok too. There’s plenty of ways to do this challenge and reuse the cups!
Nerf and cups are great too! We had friends over and I set up these tower challenge cups all around the house for targets! Or how about catapult targets? There are so many possibilities…
Don’t limit the challenges! Ask the kiddos how tall they want to build it and see if they can do it!
CUP TOWER CHALLENGE #1: Who can make the tallest cup tower (doesn’t have to be 100)?
CUP TOWER CHALLENGE #2: Who can make the tallest 100 cup tower?
CUP TOWER CHALLENGE #3: Can you build a tower as tall as you or as tall as the door frame?
TIP: Although this is a one supply challenge, you can add items such as index cards and popsicle/craft sticks to it for added challenges like we did here.
Many STEM projects use critical thinking skills as well as math, and engineering skills and this one is no exception. Attention to detail is a must and pre-planning is encouraged! This can be timed or not timed.
TIME NEEDED: At least 15-20 minutes is usually a good time allotment if you need to keep track of the clock, but it can also end up being an open-ended exploration that can morph into new challenges.
Additionally, if you have the time, add in a design and planning stage and a conclusion stage where everyone shares what worked and what didn’t as well as do differently thoughts. See some questions to ask below.
Challenge the kids to have another go and redo the paper chain STEM challenge. Can they beat their original length with a new technique?
STEM CHALLENGE SUPPLIES
This is one of my favorite STEM activities because it’s so inexpensive to set up and uses just one type of supply.
If you need help with cheap STEM supplies, click here. The FREE pack below is also a great way to introduce even more low-cost STEM activities into the mix that kids of all ages can tackle. It will definitely keep them busy!
Looking for easy to print activities, and inexpensive problem-based challenges?
We have you covered…
—>>> FREE STEM ACTIVITIES
CUP TOWER CHALLENGE SETUP
Let’s get started! Use this STEM activity as a fantastic way to start the day or as a way to end the day. Either way, kids have a lot of fun with it! It might just inspire more explorations throughout the day.
YOU WILL NEED:
- Cups (100 if possible)
- Index cards, craft sticks, cardboard (optional)
- Printable Sheets
CUP TOWER CHALLENGE STEPS
Another thing I love about this quick STEM activity is the setup time! The supplies are definitely easy to grab, so you can try this STEM project right away. Everyone gets a sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, and tape.
If you need to go and get cups, try the PAPER CHAIN STEM CHALLENGE in the meantime.
This is a great teamwork activity unless you have 100s of cups lying around!
STEP 1: Give out supplies. An example: set a bag of cups on the counter! It’s that easy!
STEP 2: Give a minute or two for a planning phase (optional).
STEP 3: Set a time limit (15-20 minutes is ideal). This is also optional.
STEP 4: Once the time is up, have the kids measure the tower (s).
Hint: Incorporate extra math in this step!
- Grab a measuring tape to measure and record each tower.
- If more than one tower is made, compare heights of towers.
- If the challenge was to make a tower as tall as the door or the kiddo, how many cups did it take?
- Count to 100 as pick up the cups or use the nerf guns to take down the towers first and then count to 100 or whatever number!
Ask a few questions:
- What factors contribute to one tower being taller than the other?
- What was the most challenging thing about this STEM project?
- What would you do differently if you had a chance to try it again?
- What worked well and what didn’t work well during the challenge?
STEP 5: If it works for you, have each kiddo share his/her thoughts on the challenge. A good engineer or scientist always shares his/her findings or results.
STEP 6: Have fun!
MORE QUICK AND EASY STEM CHALLENGES
Straw Boats Challenge – Design a boat made from nothing but straws and tape, and see how many items it can hold before it sinks.
Strong Spaghetti – Get out the pasta and test our your spaghetti bridge designs. Which one will hold the most weight?
Paper Bridges – Similar to our strong spaghettti challenge. Design a paper bridge with folded paper. Which one will hold the most coins?
Paper Chain STEM Challenge – One of the simplest STEM challenges ever!
Egg Drop Challenge – Create your own designs to protect your egg from breaking when it is dropped from a height.
Strong Paper – Experiment with folding paper in different ways to test its strength, and learn about what shapes make the strongest structures.
Marshmallow Toothpick Tower – Build the tallest tower using only marshmallows and toothpicks.
Penny Boat Challenge – Design a simple tin foil boat, and see how many pennies it can hold before it sinks.
Spaghetti Marshmallow Tower – Build the tallest spaghetti tower that can hold the weight of a jumbo marshmallow.