Saturday, November 8, 2014

Middle School Design Day

We had a middle-school-wide Design Day with our sixth, seventh and eighth graders. We wanted to give children the experience of using engineering design principles.

The engineering design principle is sophisticated trial and error method. First you create your idea, then sketch it out. Next you build a prototype. Finally you build your final project. All along the way you are testing, revising and modifying your project.

We we set aside about 45 minutes for this challenge. The students were working in multiple rooms so that they had enough room to work. We gave them their challenge and sent them to work!

Build the tallest tower.


  • Four half-sheets of newspaper per team
  • Four full sheets of newspaper per team
  • Duct tape
  • Pencil
  • Paper

Prototype materials: Four (4) half-sheets of newspaper and duct tape
Drawing materials: Paper, pencil
Final project: Four (4) full sheets of newspaper and 24 inches of duct tape

Students began by making a drawing of what they planned their tower should look like. They then constructed a small prototype. After which, they had about 20 minutes to construct a freestanding tower using 4 full sheets of newspaper and 24 inches of duct tape.

Here is the result. I didn't capture a photo of the tallest tower, but what I will tell you is that neither of these below are the tallest! The winner was over eight inches taller!

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