• Sample Tower Design  
    Technology & Engineering
    Toothpick Tower Activity
    View PHOTOS and VIDEOS of solutions to previous years' challenges HERE!
    In The House of Cards, you were required to use flimsy, lightweight materials assembled in a way that would strengthen them to support as much live load as possible.

    In Toothpick Tower, you must design and build a structure using toothpicks to support a 16 lb. live load.

    Task: Using as few of the materials provided as possible, design and build a structure capable of supporting a 16 lb. bowling ball (live load) fifteen (15”) inches above the floor.


    ·      Students will work in groups of two.

    ·      Each group will receive identical sets of materials.

    ·      Materials include standard toothpicks, one (1) 3x5” note card, and a bottle of glue. 

    ·      Sketch three different designs, and choose which one you believe will be most capable of completing the challenge. Build this final design.

    ·      The finished structure must be free-standing and the top must be 15” off the floor, with 1/8” tolerance.

    ·      Glue joints may not exceed ¼” in length. You may not “laminate or coat toothpicks in glue”.

    ·      Each team will be responsible for adding weight to their structure. Once the test begins you may not touch the structure.

    ·      Your structure must support the load for at least 5 seconds, and the load must not shift or move during the test.

    ·      Your structure must use the least number of toothpicks possible.

    ·      Before the final test, teams will explain their structure to the rest of the class.

    ·      Points will be deducted for structures that do not support the load, as well as those that exhibit visible signs of stress under load.

    ·      Analyze the problem and make a list of the problems you had to overcome to turn in along with your tower, or what’s left of it...