For a STEM lesson, students took on a few “Paper Engineering” challenges. Students were given a set amount of materials and time to make the tallest or strongest paper structure. These are just two of a series of engineering challenges that require the students to work as a team in order to problem-solve and accomplish a unified goal.
First, the students took on the “Paper Tower” challenge, where they were prompted to build the tallest free-standing structure they could create out of paper and tape. In 5 minutes or less the students, in groups of three, designed their structures and were given 25 minutes to build them. Without affixing the structure to the table they could use only a specified amount of paper and tape, but could cut and fold the materials however they desired.
For their next project, the students set out on the “Paper Table” challenge, where they were asked to build a table at least 4 inches off the desk that could hold at least one text book. Again with paper and tape, the students set to work with the same parameters as the previous challenge.
After the challenges were completed, everyone gathered around the projects to discuss their process, how successful they were, and why they chose to design them that way. For those that were unsuccessful, everyone discussed why their structures may have failed to hold the weight of a textbook, and what could be done differently in order to make the structure stronger.
The students enjoyed the process of designing and building together, and learned a lot about the creative and engineering process. More paper engineering challenges will be taking place in the near future, and it will be exciting to watch the students’ designing and problem-solving skills evolve with each project!