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Gum-drop Structures

Students create delectable models of building structures with gumdrops and toothpicks.


  • Investigate the strength of different shapes in building design.


  • Gumdrops

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 those parts not collapse? How can you use that 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.


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