Wk. 1: Marble Towers – Buiding & Testing

Week #1: Marble Towers – Building & Testing


  • Compare properties of different materials and judge their suitability for building with
  • Use a variety of materials to construct a tower of a minimum height and able to support a load
  • Select tools suitable to particular tasks
  • Explore different methods to join or fasten materials
  • Recognize the benefits of simple designs
  • Identify and improve points of stress failure


  • Learners applied destruction forces to provided materials and ranked them from best to worst for being easy to cut, able to be bent without breaking, able to be twisted without breaking.
  • Learners examined images of towers and used them to inspire their design for a water tower.
  • Learners constructed towers from a budget of supplied materials and tested them by loading the top with marbles until the tower began to collapse.
  • Learners modified their towers to improve their strength and stability.

Questions to Discuss

  • Which tested material was overall the strongest one to not break when being cut, bent, and twisted?
  • What sorts of shapes did you see providing strength and stability in the example towers?
  • Not including tape, which material would you call the best for building a tower with? Why?
  • What was one way you could combine the sticks, straws, or paper to make a better tower?
  • Why do you think extremely tall towers (or even tall trees) need to be a little bit bendy?

Things to Try at Home

  • Look at pieces of furniture, buildings, and bridges. Search for examples of how the pieces are joined and shapes used to make them strong. Take pictures or draw sketches.
  • Interview someone who builds things or makes models. Ask them questions about what materials they use and what makes them best for building with.
  • Search three examples of structures that failed when under pressure (hint: ships that sank, bridges that broke, buildings that fell). Why did they fail? What did designers change about these structures to make them better? Share what you learned about one of these examples using words and pictures.

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