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Science Rocks!

Tall, Sturdy Building


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Sent in by:
Hillary of Roswell, GA

Build a skyscraper sturdy enough for a gorilla!

Materials Needed

  • spaghetti
  • stale mini-marshmallows (left out overnight)
  • fake money in 5's and 10's
  • a small gorilla (or any stuffed toy) weighing about 200 grams
  • pens and paper for drawing your designs



  1. Build the tallest tower you can out of stale marshmallows and spaghetti.
  2. The catch? You've got a budget of only 400 dollars. One piece of spaghetti costs five dollars and each marshmallow is ten.
  3. Ask some friends to try it with you. You can form teams and compare your designs and buildings.
  4. Ask someone to be the banker. She will keep track of how much money each team spends and judge which building is the tallest. Each time you need materials, go to the banker. If you buy materials you decide not to use, you may return them to the banker for money.
  5. Before you begin building or buying your materials, draw your design. Figure out ways to make the tower taller and sturdier.
  6. Now test your designs by building your towers.
  7. Once the towers are built and measured for height, see how well each supports a small toy (weighing about 200 grams - the weight of a cup of sugar). The ZOOMers used a stuffed gorilla.
  8. How will you make your tower both tall AND sturdy? Are there adjustments to the design that you need to make? In case you need to redesign your tower to support the gorilla, each team gets an extra 200 dollars to buy new materials.
  9. The banker will set the gorilla on each tower. The tallest tower to support the weight of the toy is the winner.

When engineers design buildings, they need to think about a lot of things, just like the ZOOMers did. How tall the building is, how sturdy it is, and how much it costs. Could you support a videotape or maybe even a dictionary with your tower? Maybe you could use even fewer marhsmallows and still support a 200-gram weight. Try it out, and make sure you send your results to ZOOM!

Some of your Results

Aaron, age 6 of Parkersburg, WV wrote:
It stood when we blew at it.

Alexis, age 11 of Florsaint, MO wrote:
we had used backup so that when it starts to fall the extra marshmellows would catch it other than that it turned up fantastic.

Charlotte of Olive Branch, MO wrote:
It stayed sturdy when I put the gorilla on the inside. It was 72cm tall.

Amber, age 14 of Boerne, TX wrote:
Well it was two teams and we won because our teams tower was the tallest!

Maxine, age 8 of Houston, TX wrote:
I put a stuffed pig. It stood. I built it like a pyramid. It's cool!

Gina, age 10 of Jasper, IN wrote:
When I made it and put the beany baby on top it stood up. It never fell down it was so kool!

Anna, age 10 of Grants Pass, OR wrote:
It really worked! Me and my brother and sister all made towers. My bro, Philip, made one that was really cool looking, but it didn't hold much weight. My sis, laura, only made something that looked like a spider web. I made a lighthouse. It was a simple but it really held a lot!

Olivia, age 8 of Edgewater, MD wrote:
Well it worked and was kind of stirdy but it did not hold a beanie baby!

Emily, age 5 of San Francisco, CA wrote:
My spagetti and marshmellow tower was great. I tried putting weights on it and it went up to just below 25 pounds. Beat that!!!

Rebecca, age 9 of Kevil, KY wrote:
Mine coalapsed. But o-well! I tryed, tryed, again. Finally it worked.

Kelsey, age 10 of Woodridge, IL wrote:
When I was done building it I put a beanie baby on it. It stood for about 5 seconds but then it fell down! My tower looked like a pryamid until it fell. After it fell it looked like, well what can I say? It looked like a smushed pryamid that was attacked by a beanie baby!

Becca, age 12 of Peru, IN wrote:
We tried this and it was hard. Mabe if we would have let our buildings sit for a few days and let them get hard, they would have held better.

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