This is an awesome STEM challenge for young kids and older ones too! Explore forces, and what makes a paper bridge strong. Fold that paper and test our your paper bridge designs. Which one will hold the most coins? We have tons more easy STEM activities for you to try!


What Makes a Paper Bridge Strong?

Beam, truss, arch, suspension… Bridges vary in their design, their length and how they balance two main forces, tension and compression. Tension is a pulling or stretching force which acts outward and compression is a pushing or squeezing force, acting inward.

The goal is that there is no overall force to cause motion and do damage. A bridge will buckle if compression, the force pushing down on it, becomes too much; it will snap if tension, the force pulling on it, overwhelms.

Depending on the purpose of the bridge, how much weight it will need to hold, and the distance it needs to cover, engineers can figure out which bridge is the best bridge. Learn more about what is engineering.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Skeleton Bridge STEM Challenge

Take up the challenge and test your paper bridge designs. Which paper bridge design is the strongest? Fold your paper and see how many coins your paper bridge can hold before it collapses.


How to Build A Strong Paper Bridge

While you are at it, check out these other fun paper STEM challenges!


  • Books
  • Paper
  • Pennies (coins)


STEP 1: Place several books about 6 inches apart.


STEP 2: Fold the papers into different paper bridge designs.

STEP 3: Place the paper across the books like a bridge.


STEP 4: Test how strong your bridge is by adding pennies onto the bridge until it collapses.


STEP 5: Keep a record of how many pennies your bridge could hold before it collapsed! Which paper bridge design was the strongest?


More Fun 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 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. 

Spaghetti Marshmallow Tower – Build the tallest spaghetti tower that can hold the weight of a jumbo marshmallow.

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.

Gumdrop Bridge – Build a bridge from gumdrops and toothpicks and see how much weight it can hold.

Cup Tower Challenge – Make the tallest tower you can with 100 paper cups.

Paper Clip Challenge – Grab a bunch of paper clips and make a chain. Are paper clips strong enough to hold weight?

STEM Resources To Get You Started

Here are a few resources that will help you introduce STEM more effectively to your kiddos or students and feel confident yourself when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.

Click on the image below or on the link for more easy STEM projects for kids.

STEM projects for kids and STEM ideas to keep kids busy all year! Free printable STEM activities pack.Pin