Index Card STEM Towers
Last week in STEM class, we built towers with index cards. When I first showed the kids that we would be using just index cards and tape, I held up a floppy index card and a can of beans and asked them if they thought index cards were strong enough to hold the can. Most of them didn’t think it could be done! I asked them to think about ways they could change the shape of the card to make it stronger. They had a few ideas and then I showed them some ways to make different columns (circular, triangular, square), and how to make an accordion shape with the card. We got to work making out index card STEM towers:
Building index card STEM towers
Then they took time to plan out their designs. What I absolutely loved about this challenge is that every single index card tower was completely different! Working in groups of two, the kids built everything from short and wide towers, to very elaborate towers with multiple columns and walls.
When it was time to test the towers, they were a little apprehensive about the weight. After seeing that one can of beans was easily held, I told them they could try stacking two, and then three. They were so excited to see how much weight the towers held.
Amazingly strong index card STEM tower
While they were working on building and testing, I had a surprise in the works: a “seat” made up of index card columns! I showed them the structure and asked if they thought index cards could support their weight. Pretty much everyone was in agreement that the cards would buckle under the load. One by one the students tried it out and it held up to all of them – to at least 80 pounds!