Paper Tower Building Challenge


paperbuildingIn this activity students will work in groups to create the tallest possible structure out of scrap paper. This can be either a single or multi-session event.

Rationale (Why we are doing this?)

  • Work in a group cooperatively to solve a problem
  • Start building problem solving skills for later projects


  • Scrap paper (recycling, copy room, etc.)
  • Masking Tape

Context and Background Knowledge

How to roll paper.

Curricular Connections (Competencies and Content)

Skills can be developed through play Big Idea
Add to others ideas Applied Design
Use trial and error to make changes, solve problems or incorporate new ideas from self or others Applied Design
Reflect on their ability to work effectively both as individuals and collaboratively in a group Applied Design
Develop their skills and add new ones through play and collaborative work Applied Skills
Generate and introduce new or refined ideas when problem solving Science – 2
Co-operatively design projects Science – 3
Work respectively and constructively with others to achieve common goals Career Education – 2
Direct linear measurement Math – 2/3
Make simple inferences based on their results and prior knowledge (Science-4)
Financial literacy Math – 2/3

Explore + Understand + Create (Key elements/Lesson Design/Format)

  1. The first lesson I give them free control over their constructions. They are given as much paper as they need and a limited supply of tape. They are free to use any process they can figure out to build the tallest possible structure. Halfway through the activity I invite them to walk around and look at what other groups are doing. At the end of the allotted time we measure the height of the standing towers.
  2. The 2nd lesson we discuss what worked and what didn’t the last time. I give a few tips based on what I saw if needed. We then repeat the activity.
  3. Repeat lesson 2 until they can’t build anything taller.


  • This is a pretty inclusive activity. Everyone can participate. Anyone that struggles with rolling paper can help with taping.
  • Extensions would be to challenge a group to find different ways to build their structure once they have polished a strategy.