Day 3 and 4: Building Paper Towers

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SWBAT: Follow a plan to construct a paper tower.

Big Idea

Students will follow plans to build and test the effectiveness of their tower. Changes to designs are recorded in trouble shooting journal.

Distributing Materials

10 minutes

Up until this point students have researched towers, developed possible solutions, discussed the best solution with their group member(s), and created a blueprint.  

It is now time for them to create their towers using 20 pieces of paper and two meters of tape. To maximize time on learning, it is important to have materials ready to go prior to students arriving to class. I save recycled paper or unused handouts for the project and separate them into stacks of 20 pieces, staggered to make handing them out faster. To distribute tape, I have a meter stick at my desk and ask students to bring up a pencil or pen. Students then wrap the tape on to the pencil, which acts as a dispenser. To avoid the drama of not being able to find the end of the tape, I have students place the tag end of the tape on their desk.  

Students may need time to discuss their designs prior to gathering materials, so I give them time to do so.

Students Construct Their Towers

45 minutes

While students are building their towers, they can test their designs on the official test area:


Student have this time to construct their towers.  Often time, they realize that their original design isn't going to work, so I require them to make their changes in their trouble shooting journal (see rubric).  Recreating a new orthographic projection will take too long, so they students just write sketches of their changes in the journal and explain the reasons for the changes.

Cleaning up is tricky on day one, so I would suggest setting aside more time than normal to establish routines and norms.

Some common and helpful norms that I have establish include:

1) Collect students tape dispensers at the end of each class and have them write their names on a piece of masking tape that is placed on it.

2) Have designated storage areas for each period.  Students should write their names on each piece of unused paper and the tower.  This makes distributing during day two easier.

3) No one touches anyone else's tower or supplies.

Providing students with ample time to construct towers results in more student confidence and better quality towers.