In this activity, students create delectable models of building structures with gumdrops and toothpicks, and examine their strength and stability.

### Objectives

• Investigate the strength of different shapes in building design.

### Materials

• Per Student:
gumdrops
toothpicks

Alternative Materials: plasticine or play-dough can be used to anchor toothpicks.

### Key Questions

• What shapes made by the toothpicks and gumdrops were the strongest? Squares, rectangles, triangles?
• Did the width of the base make a difference?
• When buildings collapsed, which portions stayed in one piece?
• Why did certain parts of buildings not collapse?
• How can you use strength and collapse information to build a better tower?

### What To Do

1. Individually or in groups, students build towers by sticking toothpicks into gumdrops, using gumdrops as connectors.

Create your own challenges or try some of these:

• The building must have 2 floors and be at least _____ cm tall.
• The building may not extend out past a given base.
• The building cannot use more than ____ gumdrops.
• The building cannot use more than ____ toothpicks.

You can do the challenges with or without time limits.

1. Test the structures using an earthquake simulator or simply by shaking the table beneath.

### Extensions

• Try a structural strength test: What configuration of a Gum Drop Structure can support the most weight and is most stable? HINT: let the structures dry and harden overnight for this experiment.
• If using plasticine or fresh playdough as an alternative material: These materials are pliable, which can lead to extension activities about rigidity of joints and how they support certain structure uses, or not.
• If using play dough as an alternative material: When left overnight, playdough will harden. Structures can then be evaluated for their strength in weight ("load" ) they can bear. NOTE: Plasticine will STAY pliable if left.

### Other Resources

Science World Resources | Structures faites de jujubes French version of this resource

PBS Learning | Triangles: Testing the strength of a Gum Drop Dome

Government of British Columbia | Master of Disaster Youth Education

Government of British Columbia | Earthquake Preparedness and Response

Government of Canada | Natural Resources Canada |  Earthquakes Canada

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