15min STEM activity: Newspaper Towers

15min STEM activity: Newspaper Towers

This has to be one of our favourite 15min STEM activities for three simple reasons:

  1.   It’s so easy to resource. All you need is newspaper and tape!
  2.   It teaches perseverance. Children will inevitably make mistakes as they build their towers but their challenge is to learn from them.
  3.  It’s a great way to get children collaborating together. Teachers will learn a lot from observing the group dynamics and listening to each child’s creative input.

To launch the activity, we started with a brief discussion about tall structures. The children told me some of the tallest buildings they could think of and then we quickly looked through this powerpoint. I got the children to see if they could guess each building and location before I revealed the answer.

Download (PPTX, 6.59MB)

The children made lots of interesting observations about these buildings. We discussed how they all have a strong foundation and how the shape of the building gets narrower towards the top.

Then it was activity time! The children divided up into small groups (ideally no more than 4) and were tasked with building the tallest free standing tower that they could using just newspaper and tape. They had just 15mins to complete the challenge.

For the first 5mins I left the children to it and simply observed. A variety of techniques were tested including scrunching paper into balls and rolling it up into rods. After a while we paused to recap on the importance of a firm base. This inspired a couple of the groups to create a tripod style base to secure their tower.

Then it was on to adding the height. After our initial discussion, most worked on the principle that the tower needed to be narrower and lighter towards the top.

Here are a couple of the finished towers that demonstrate the different building styles the children used. Everyone had a real sense of achievement at the end of this activity. It’s one that I’d love to repeat again with them soon to allow them to build (quite literally) on what they’d learnt today. Next time we’ll extend the activity by creating a tower to withstand a high wind (hairdryer).

If you’d like to try this for yourself then you can download our 15min stem Newspaper Towers activity here.

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