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Science Rocks!

Paper Cup Walk


your results

Sent in by:
Ms. C.'s 2nd grade class, MA

Can you stand on paper cups without crushing them?

Materials Needed

  • small paper drinking cups
  • 2 cardboard squares 24" X 24"



  1. Can you make a platform with cups and a piece of cardboard that will support your weight?
  2. Check with a grown-up before you start this.
  3. Place one cardboard square on the floor, and put a bunch of cups face down on top of it.
  4. When you think you have enough cups to support your weight, put the other cardboard square on top. With a friend to spot you, carefully stand on the platform.
  5. Did it hold you? If it did, try it using fewer cups. See how many cups you need to support you.

Here's why it works. If you try to stand on just one cup, it will smoosh. That's because all of your weight is pushing, or compressing, the cup. But if you arrange the cups, and put a piece of cardboard on top, then the cardboard spreads out your weight. So, each cup supports less weight. That means that there isn't too much weight on any one cup. Try it out and be sure to send us your results.

Some of your Results

Abigail, age 11 of Oshkosh, WI wrote:
What I did is I said lets do 9 cups and quadrupled it. Then we put one on each corner, and also quadrupled it. It hold 14 kids and 1 adult. It is a really cool science project.

Maahmad, age 11 of Harvey, IL wrote:
it really works and it is a good science project.

Jaylyn, age 9 of Thompson, CT wrote:
I started out with 5 cups. But my dad helped me and suggested we do 9 cups.

Dominique, age 9 of Miami, FL wrote:
My mom and I did the experiment and it worked!!! I weigh 70 ibs and 5 cups were able to hold me up. With my mom weighing in at 140 9 cups held her up. It was amazing how such small cups can hold up your weight without being crushed.

Greg, age 9 of Murfreesboro, TN wrote:
i used it with 4 cups

Nateyahna, age 9 of Columbus, OH wrote:
i did it with 5 cups

Junior Engineers Club, age 11 of NH wrote:
We used a cardboard that measured 28 in by 23 in. We used 138 3 oz plastic cups in a square formation under the cardboard. It was able to support a person weighing up to 142 pounds.

Jada, age 8 of Elk City, OK wrote:
It was awsome. I love it was the coolest thing I have ever saw. I loved it.

Kayla, age 10 of Corpus Christi, TX wrote:
it didnt work it was a rip off. my mom had to go back to doolor genral n buy more.

Susan of Jamaica, KY wrote:
it was ridonculous.

Olivia, age 11 of Yankton, SD wrote:
it was so cool! it held me up every time! but it didn't hold up my fat cat. I tried nine and they held me up, then I put my cat on by herself and they all crashed!

Blake, age 11 of Murfreesboro, TN wrote:
It was alsome it even held my mom! The max I have seen is 128 pounds. It is the best project on zoom!

Angel, age 9 of Loganville, GA wrote:
When I tried I put 9 cups under me, then my big sister got on and smooshed them one by one!!!

Diana, age 10 of Dubai, U.A.E. wrote:
I am 35 kg. and 18 cups thast I put holded me!! I also tried to do 2 levels and it worked... I felt like flying!!

Aimee, age 12 of S.I, NY wrote:
I put the cardboard on top of the cups and stood on the cardboard and it did not smoosh exept one.

Alexis, age 13 of Bossier, LA wrote:
I knew it was going to work on me because I only weigh 99 pounds.

Baylee, age 14 of Burbank, IL wrote:
I stood on 10 cups and then 1 stood on 5 and then 3! It's amazing.

Taylor, age 13 of Houston, TX wrote:
Well I stood on 4 cups and my baby coucin thats 4 stood on 1!!!

Ryan, age 5 of Powell, OH wrote:
I stood on 2 Paper Cups!!!

Caitlin, age 11 of Epping, NH wrote:
My brother did this ZoomSci with his wolf pack he got doown to for cups he is only 7 years old and is very light.

Lauren, age 10 of Edina, MN wrote:
The minimum I had was 3, my sis sophie who is 9 had 3 and my sis shelby had 4!!!

Linda, age 12 of Wichita, KS wrote:
I didn't break any cups except when I went on the side a little and it kind of bent then I fell.

Whitney, age 13 of Atkins, AR wrote:
I was held up by 3 paper cups!!! Amazing? Well its true!!! Ask my mom!!!

Ali, age 10 wrote:
I stood on 5 cups.

Nasima, age 10 of Grand Prairie, TX wrote:
I standed on 9 cups, and didn't crush the cups.

Keightlynne of Philadelphia, PA wrote:
I had 9 cups holding me up. I had 16 and then I took 2 away at a tine and it held me with 9 cups. I thought it was a fun expirement to do and I tried it with all of my friends. My one friend Abbrianna only had 6 cups holding her up but she is only 5 years old too so maybe that had something to do with it. Also the weight might have had something to do with it also.

Ashley, age 11 of New Haven, MO wrote:
I did this on my own. I had 15 cups holding me and thick cardboard. You might want to put more cups because 15 cups did not hold me and I only weigh 76.

Crystal, age 12 of Northfield, OH wrote:
I used those white foam cups, and they worked. I got down to two cups. Wow!

Khori, age 8 of Vacaville, CA wrote:
I had fun!!! First, I put down a piece of cardboard, and many different numbers of paper or plastic cups on it. Then, I put another piece of cardboard on top of the cups. Last, I stepped up on top. The results were: Sixteen, 16-ounce plastic cups were the lowest number I could stand on. Nineteen 9-ounce plastic cups were the lowest number I could stand on. TWO(!) 12-ounce paper cups were the lowest number I could stand on. Three 9-ounce paper cups were the lowest number I could stand on. I can stand on paper cups better than I can stand on plastic cups when I spread my weight out equally using two cardboard pieces. I weigh 78 pounds. Next time I will try letting my mom and dad stand on the cups to see how many cups they can stand on without smashing them!! The cardboard pieces were 13" by 18" each. I wore NO SHOES, but I kept my socks on. I did try standing on one cup and actually I was up for two seconds. My mom got a picture and it LOOKS like I stood on it LONGER. (HA!) I included this picture in my display, but I also included the after shot which showed that I DIDN'T stand on the cup but it was smashed. Lots of FUN!!

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