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Science Rocks!


Toothpick Challenge

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your results

Sent in by:
Kimberly of Elgin, SC

To make a triangle out of toothpicks, you'd need three toothpicks. To make three triangles, you'd need nine toothpicks. Or would you?
Materials

Materials Needed


  • 7 toothpicks

Instructions

Instructions


  1. Make three triangles of the same size using only seven toothpicks.
  2. To solve this puzzle, you have to put the toothpicks together in different ways. You might try one way, decide whether or not it works, and then try something different. Did you notice that when you tried something that didn't work, it still gave you ideas for other ways to try? Mathematicians and scientists do this all the time. In fact, sometimes they are wrong more often than they are right, and that's how they learn. Don't be afraid to try different ways to solve a problem -- you can learn something even if your solution is wrong.


Now it's time for you to experiment. Try using ten toothpicks to make six triangles of different sizes. Or, try using ten toothpicks to make twelve triangles. What other patterns can you make? Try it out, then share your results with the world in our fabulous ZOOMsci feedback area.

Some of your Results

Kailee, age 11 of Johnson City, TN wrote:
It was SO easy! I got it on the first try. You end up with a trapezoid with 3 triangles. There was one UPSIDE-DOWN triangle in the Middle.

Lane, age 10 of Madison, MS wrote:
i tried several times and relized it was sooo easy!

Clara, age 11 of Reno, NV wrote:
I had a little trouble at first but then I found out that if you make two triangles and put the third inbetweenyou make three!!!

Sue Ellen, age 10 of Blue Ridge, GA wrote:
I did it! Well, sort of. I made 3 out of 6 tooth picks. But, it was fun!

Kiarra, age 8 of Weatherford, TX wrote:
it made 2 triangles.

Olamide, age 9 of Calgary, AB wrote:
i thought it was impossible but the way you do it is by making 2 triangles and putting the last one between the 2 points.

Diane, age 12 of Texarkana, TX wrote:
I tried my own experiment with 10 toothpicks. If you count all the overlaping triangles you can make 17 triangles out of ten toothpicks. In science there are endless possibilities!!!

Sarah, age 6 of Charlotte, NC wrote:
its was really easy. you just put thm together.

Charlie, age 8 of Birmingham, UK wrote:
make one triangle then another next, bottoms touching by a bit so there is a little gap to put a toothpick in to make a 3rd triangle. there. it should look like a triangular prism with a v inside, dosent it? you can make 4 triangles with nine toothpicks, add one then another so it looks like a large prism with a w inside it!

Keller, age 8 of Champagne, IL wrote:
I dident have toothpicks so I used skewers. Then I made 4 triangles out of 6 skewers. can you do that? (hint:3-D.)

Cuba, age 14 of Bronx, NY wrote:
I got three triangle but when I looked at the bigger picture, it looked as if a trapezoid had been devided into three equal triangles.

Jess, age 16 of Austin, TX wrote:
well I got 8 triangels out of the experiment and it was exiteing!

Mckenzie, age 14 of Church Point, LA wrote:
I got the first one the first time I tried it! The 2nd and 3rd one took me some time but I got those too.

Olivia, age 10 of Woonsocket, RI wrote:
If you can overlap toothpicks then I got 13 all diferent shaped triangles with 10 toothpicks! I got the first one the first time!

Kakleigha, age 11 of Lenoir, NC wrote:
It looks like the bottom and arms of a stick star with a line conecting each.

Pauline of Wellend, ON wrote:
need six tothpicks to make six triangles try it

Kelly, age 9 of Steubenville, OH wrote:
I got it on the first try who knew I was that smart!

Marie, age 16 of Ocala, FL wrote:
i figured it out the first time. You make a zig zag pattern and just add a top to every drop.

Kobey, age 7 of Norwalk, IA wrote:
I figured out that when you do the Toothpick Challenge you're actually creating a trapezoid.

Charlie & Anne, age 7 of Birmingham wrote:
I made a triangle then i put two on one side to make two triangles and then the same on the other side and i worked it out in just one go and it took me one second

Hannah & Rebecca of Markham, ON wrote:
we got to make 5 or 6 shapes.

Gabrielle, age 10 of New York wrote:
I made one, then I connected two toothpicks to that, therefore creating a second, then I repeated that a second time, creating the third and final triangle

Charlotte, age 11 of Richmond, VA wrote:
I made 5 triangles with 9 toothpicks! You have to really think about this to do it.

Colleen, age 9 of Littleton, CO wrote:
I made a triangle and put two thoothpicks under it and two next to it = 3 triangles made out of 7 toothpicks.

Olivia, age 10 of TN wrote:
I made two triangles. The two sides just put one more at the bottem.

Michelle, age 7 of Maui, HI wrote:
It was so easy, all you had to do, was make one, and then right next to it add two others, and then connected again, two more.

Margaret, age 11 of Blackville, SC wrote:
What happened when I did it was I tried to build a tower out of 200 tooth picks. When I got to the last tooth pick it all callapsed, (feel down.) I thought it was really fun too make because it was very, very challenging.

Marina, age 14 of Bellflower, CA wrote:
I made one triangle, and I put both sticks on one side to make another triangle. And the last two on the other side! so basicly. I used one triangle's sides to make others. They are noe comnbined into three.

Kristen, age 10 of Oklahoma wrote:
It took 9 toothpicks its so easy.


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