Build a Super Structure

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In this activity, learners use things from the kitchen as building materials to explore how shapes contribute to the strength of different structures. Learners are challenged to construct different shaped structures using different quantities of supplies and then test their ability to support weight. This resource lists four challenges, including a final challenge where learners attempt to build a bridge in between two chairs 1 foot apart that can hold the weight of a cup of quarters. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • a package of toothpicks
  • miniature marshmallows (or modeling clay)
  • a hardcover book
  • 2 chairs
  • 5 quarters in a paper cup


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Ontario Science Centre, 2011