Sunday 14 April 2013

Marshmallow towers

What can be learnt from this activity?

How structures can be formed.

What shapes make stronger structures?

How weaker materials can be made stronger with well-designed structures.

How the weight of something (the mass) can affect the balance of a structure.

Learn which is stronger a tall tower or a short one.

About Civil engineers who are involved in the design of public works like large buildings, roads, bridges, water distribution systems, dams and so on.


Other things you can try...

You could try changing the materials and see which ones are stronger.  Instead of using cocktail sticks try spaghetti, instead of marshmallows try raisins, sweets like jelly babies, wooden skewers, grapes anything really.  You could also try cutting bigger marshmallows up instead of using mini ones, but this can be very sticky so be prepared with baby wipes and bins or bin bags nearby.  What material combination makes the strongest tower?  Can you think of any other materials you could use?

You could also make several towers using different designs and see which ones stay up the longest  while holding a hardboiled egg on top or you could see if the structure can hold the egg for a minute.  For this experiment you will need a stop watch as well.

Or you can play who can make the tallest tower if there are more than one of you.  For this you will need a tape measure or metre ruler.
To make the last two experiments fair it is best to use the same amount of materials for each tower and if using spaghetti use the same brand. 

Another thing you could try is to design your structure on paper before constructing your tower. 

Famous civil Engineers

French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel (1832–1923) is most well-known for building the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He was an expert in aerodynamics and built many bridges so understood the importance of making the Eiffel tower strong enough to withstand strong winds being so tall.  To ensure it was strong enough to he used a lot of maths to work out what the design of the tower needed to be.  

The Eiffel Tower for the Paris World's Fair of 1889, which honoured the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The World's Fair or Universal Exposition of 1889 (Exposition Universelle de 1889) was a highly successful international exhibition and its central attraction was the Eiffel Tower, a 300-meter high marvel of iron by Gustave Eiffel.  


  1. We do this with Magnetex, we'll have to try it with marshmallows. It'll be like pick your own strawberries though. One for the construction and one in the mouth!!