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Science Rocks!

Strongest Shape


your results

Sent in by:
Tom of Revere, MA

Behold the Mighty Power of Paper!

Materials Needed

  • paper



  1. Make 4 shapes - a tent, a triangle, a box and a cylinder. Each shape should be made out of one piece of paper.
  2. Predict which shape will be the strongest and then test your prediction by seeing which one can support the most books.

Some of your Results

Benjamin, age 8 of Bellevue, WA wrote:
The cylinder held the most. It held 17 books.

Matthew, age 16 of San Ramon, CA wrote:
I did this yesterday. The tent didn't hold any books because it's not a very strong shape because there's nothing underneath to help it stay up. The triangle held 9 books, the box (square) held 4 books, and the cylinder held 12 books. So, 1st place: the cylinder, 2nd place: the triangle, 3rd place: the box (square), and 4th place: the tent.

Erin and Cody, age 10 of Austin, TX wrote:
They bundled up with 30 pieces of folder and 10-ounce books and made it up to 30 pieces on the box. Meanwhile, Erin succeed 52 thin books on the cylinder. What an awesome project!

Bob of PA wrote:
I tried the experiment and here are my results. I used 10 once books and found that the tent collapsed on contact. The triangle held 3 books. By the second book, it had a crushed top. The square held 2 books. It did not seem to be under any strain, but then it collapsed. The cylinder was by far the best shape. It held 10 books. Just like the square, the cylinder suddenly collapsed at the 10th book. I think the cylinder was the strongest because it supports the weight on all parts of the shape.

Sundus, age 9 of Harrisonburg, VA wrote:
What happened was that I made a square, triangal, and a cylinder. The cylinder held 15 book, the square held 5 books, and the triangel held 6 books.

Jasmine, age 13 of La Mirada, CA wrote:
The cylinder worked the best when I did it. This was not a very hard project at all to do by myself!!

Ryan, age 15 of Nashville, TN wrote:
The circle held 50 books. They were about a half an inch thick. I placed the cirlces close togethe and made them about an inch or two tall. Then I put two strands of paper running across diagnoly to the opposite papers.

Brendon, age 11 of Neponset, IL wrote:
My strongest shape was a cylinder. I made a cylinder out of card stock. It was 4 1/2 inches tall and 2 1/2 inches in diameter. It held 19 books - Each book weighed 1Lb 7oz. When I put the 20th book on it colapsed. So it held about 27 lbs! I never knew that paper could be so strong. The only reason it collapsed was because the tape come undone were I put it together. I found out that the smaller the cylinder is the more weight it can hold. And when you do it, put the books on very, very lightly!

Kirstie, age 13 of Livonia, MI wrote:
The tent didn't hold anything either did the triangle. But then I tryed a cylinder and it held 2 dictionarys. I tryed a 3rd but it fell when I set on.

Staci, age 10 of West Valley City wrote:
I tryed a triangle. It was stong. I tryed a weard looking shape that had a triangle. It was stong to. I tryed a circle. It worked the best.

Alexus, age 10 of Columbia wrote:
I did srongest shape out of medium size not so steady wood straws. Out of rectangle square and quadrilateral and put books on top and square hold the most.

Billy, age 9 of Augusta, ME wrote:
It did not work. I followed the directions carefully for about 7 tries and it did not work.

Onandaga of NT wrote:
Mine was a cylinder. It held 38 books!! I used normal intermediate novels and chapter books.

April, age 10 of TN wrote:
I tryd the cilender, it got one. And I tryd the box, it got one. They were hevey books.

Jonathan, age 10 of Franklin, TN wrote:
I made a cylinder and a box. The box held 2 lb. and the cylinder held 3 lb. I've heard that eggshell halves (not plastic eggs) hold a lot of weight.

Megan J., age 5 of Blacklick, OH wrote:
My strongest shape was the square. It held 14 books and may have worked best because it was the shortest. My circle held 4 books, my triangle held 2, while the tent couldn't hold any. It's top just fell down. I did this experiment all by myself.

Alec B., age 8 of Pittsburgh, PA wrote:
You know when you guys did the strongest shape? Mine was a cylinder. It held seventeen books.

Justine and Miranda B. of MI wrote:
We tried a challenge that you did to see how many books could fit on four different shapes. A tent, a triangle, a square, and a cylinder. The tent held zero, and so did the triangle. The square held two. The cylinder held five books. We think our shapes held more than yours because we used Dr. Seuss books, and they weigh less than the books you used.

Colby M., age 11 of Auburn, IN wrote:
When I did the strongest shape project the circle won with 11 books. I think that it could of held more but I bumped it and it fell over. The square held 9 books and then the shape just fell over. The triangle did the worst it only held 1 book. I think it was because of the sides maybe. I incourage other people who watch Zoom to do this project too.

Andrea, age 12 of Farmington Hills wrote:
My cylindar was the only one that worked. It held 2 books!

Erin S., age 9 of Norfolk, MA wrote:
When I did it I used a circle shape. It held 3 books!

Katie F., age 13 of Pittsburgh, PA wrote:
When I tried the tent it just fell everytime. When I use the box I ended up holding 2 books, 2 cook books. After that I used the triangle I did not hold any books. Finally when I used the Cylinder I ended up holding 3 books a binder and 2 cook books. I think that they held up because they were stronger.

Kyle G., age 4 of Plainview, MN wrote:
Our triagle held 1 book. Our square held 0 books. Our cilinder held 3 books. All the books were very heavy.

Irene A., age 11 of N. Las Vegas, NV wrote:
My teacher and her assistand did shapes. The most common was the cylinder, but we used 30 pieces and held up 20 dictionary!!! But we only put 20 dictionarys but we ran out of dictionarys!!!

Jenny L., age 11 of Greendale, WI wrote:
I did the strongest shape challenge and the tent held 0, the square held 0 and the circle held 6. I think the square held more because of the way I put the books on.

Steven R., age 9 of Willingboro, NJ wrote:
The cylinder won! Tent-0, Triangle-1, Box-0, Cylinder-4

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