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Skewers and Garden Poles

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    The Exploratorium

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Skewers and Garden Poles

In this activity, learners build scaled-down structures and cantilevers in a series of "building out" challenges with bamboo skewers and tape. In doing so, learners will experience many of the basic physics and engineering concepts inherent in structures as well as explore the concepts of torque and center-of-mass. This resource guide contains background information, discussion questions and extensions. This activity is a scaled-down version of the "Garden Poles--Building Out" activity (see related resource).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model

English, Italian

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 35 9-inch bamboo skewers (available at grocery stores) (8-inch skewers will also work)
  • One roll of 1/8-inch masking tape (available at auto detailing supply stores) or 1/4-inch tape
  • 1 to 2 feet of duct tape
  • 10 weights (e.g. large washers or film canisters filled with sand) (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Center of Gravity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, The Exploratorium, ©2000

Funding Source:

  • Unisys


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