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In this STEM Challenge, you can test the strength of paper folded in differently shaped columns, by piling books on top. This is very similar to how columns are used to support buildings and other structures.
  • Copy paper or construction paper
  • Scotch tape or masking tape
  • Books
  • Paper and pencil to record the results
Fold the paper into three different kinds of columns: a circular column, a triangular column, and a square column. Set up your three different kinds of columns and test each one by seeing how many books can be stacked on each one.
Which type of column holds the most books? Why do you think that kind of column holds the most book? (Answer is at the end.)
After you have discovered which type of column is the strongest, make three more columns of the same kind. Then, put them in a square and start stacking! Experiment with different kinds of paper and tape.
How many books did your four columns hold? Take a picture or video and tag us on Facebook or Instagram!
WHICH SHAPE IS THE STRONGEST? Cylinders are the most structurally sound and strong geometrical shapes because the stress is distributed equally rather than concentrating at any one point.