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Paper Tower

An engineering challenge that tests you on the knowledge of basic scientific facts is fun to take up in school. Add to that the thrill of a contest and icebreaking with new batch mates. Before you get busy in your efforts, arm yourself with this easy tutorial and tips to get your team noticed and, well, win!

Paper Tower

How to Build a Paper Tower

The objective here is to build a free standing paper tower with newspapers.

Supplies

  • Sunday newspaper (or any thick bundle of newspaper)
  • Additional newspapers
  • Measuring tape
  • Clear tape

Instructions

  1. Put the Sunday newspaper bundle on the floor without opening it out.
  2. Tape the bundle nicely so that it doesn’t flap around. This creates a stable base for the tower.
  3. Roll 5 additional full-size sheets lengthwise into tubes of around 1-inch diameter.
  4. Tape them to secure firmly.
  5. Stand one such tube at the center of the Sunday paper base. You can hold it in place with the aid of 4 pieces of tape along the 4
  6. Now attach the other 4 tubes in such a way that they extend diagonally from the corners of the base up to the tip of the central paper pillar. You would need to tape both the ends of the tubes.
  7. Now start adding more rolls of paper to the top of the central tube until the structure begins to wobble.
  8. Measure the length. Write it down in your lab report, if any.
  9. Now you would need to add additional reinforcements of paper tubes from the sides to keep the tower stable.
  10. Proceed in this way to create a tall tower.

Prepare a neat lab report and conclusion to complete the project. You can also fill a detailed worksheet based on the above.

How to Build a Paper Tower

Video on Tower Made Of Paper

Here is a great procedure to build a paper tower out of just 1 piece/sheet of paper.

Paper Tower Challenge

Challenge the kids along the following lines to get them into a competitive mood while they get their physics right. It also boosts team building spirit in them.

  1. Building the tallest paper tower. They can try folding, crumpling, tearing or bending the sheets.
  2. The tallest tower built by an individual should stand for at least 30 seconds without falling.
  3. A paper tower that can hold the weight of, say, a specified no. of coins, a golf or tennis ball. Can you make it powerful enough to hold a pile of books?
  4. How high can it hold an egg without getting messy? [They should be given a prior lesson about how a wide base with a low center of gravity helps in supporting.]
  5. Follow a technique that requires no tape or adhesive (glue).
  6. Rack your brains to construct it with something as fragile as paper napkins.
  7. Up to a specified height, say, 1-2 meter or 3-6 feet. The no. of sheets can also be limited to 1-10 sheets of sizes A4, 8×11, etc.

Paper Tower Design Ideas

  • Check out the plan of the Eiffel tower. Can you create the basic 3D triangular structure and reinforce later with narrow paper strips according to a template?
  • How about building a cardboard paper dice tower? The cuboidal form has a square/rectangular base that has internal paper flaps forming obstacles to the path of a dice dropped through it that ultimately comes out of the bottom. No need of rolling dice by hand now!
  • While we mostly bank on a triangular base to make a strong tower, circular bases can also be quite effective. Roll a piece of cardstock into a cylindrical shape, cut fringes at the top, draw and cut out tiny doors and windows on the body, set a paper cone on top for the roof, stand it on a base and rejoice at the model of a grand castle! Note this quick DIY uses just 2 pieces of paper.
  • How about giving the kids a Freedom Tower making assignment?
  • Can you kirigami or origami to give your tower the shape of a helix decagon?
  • This one is a bit tough, ideal for the seniors. Can you balance it in such a way that it resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Games and group activities can act as an ideal exercise to supplement the scientific principles of force, gravity, friction and weight learned in class. For older kids in the lab, you can also formulate a numerical theory (involving the height of the tower and its weight, for example) along with a proper solution to aid them in the project. Problems can also be set up on this topic to invoke interest.