Which paper structure will hold the most books? Experiment with folding paper in different ways to test its strength, and learn about what shapes make the strongest structures. A fun and hands on STEM challenge for all ages. All you need are some books, paper and tape. Use what you have around the house or classroom to explore simple STEM activities any day of the week.
HOW TO MAKE PAPER STRONGER
STEM FOR KIDS
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and activities involving these fields have a huge impact on kids. Even the simplest STEM activities like this strong paper challenge provide numerous opportunities for kids to learn and explore STEM.
It might look like your kids are just playing, but they are doing oh so much more. Look closely, you will see the design process in motion. You will see experimenting and critical thinking in action, and you will notice problem-solving at its finest. When kids play, they learn about the world around them!
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STRONG PAPER CHALLENGE
- Paper (regular copy paper will do, or try card stock for a thicker paper and compare the results!)
STEP 1: Fold a piece of regular copy paper into three paper structures: a triangle shape, a square or box shape, and a cylinder (see photos).
STEP 2: Use tape to connect the ends of the folds together to secure the shape.
STEP 3: Place one book at a time, carefully, onto each folded shape to see which shape provides the strongest base.
STEP 4: How many books will each paper structure hold? Record your results!
WHAT IS THE STRONGEST FOLDED SHAPE?
Did you discover that the cylinder can support the most books? The reason is because it’s walls don’t have any edges. The weight of the books can be distributed evenly. In other words, all parts of the cylinder are sharing the weight of the books.
The square and triangle paper structures deform more easily. They shift the weight of the books to their edges and corners, which deforms their walls and leads to a quick collapse. They are unable to carry weight only at their edges.
The cylinder is one of the most widely used shapes in column construction. Early architects in several ancient civilizations used columns in their buildings including the ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.
MORE FUN STEM PROJECTS TO TRY
HOW TO MAKE PAPER STRONG
Click on the image below or on the link for more fun and easy STEM activities for kids.