bullet45 minutes for exploration
bullet1-2 hours for building

bulletBundle skewers and tape for each group.

bulletFour to five, or pairs

(per group)
bullet35 9-inch bamboo skewers (available at grocery stores) (8-inch skewers will also work)
bulletOne roll of 1/8-inch masking tape (available at auto detailing supply stores) or 1/4-inch tape
bullet1 to 2 feet of duct tape
bulletOptional: 10 weights to be shared by several groups (e.g., large washers or film canisters filled with sand)

Teacher Tips
bulletMake some space to store skewer structures for later comparison with larger structures.
bulletSee Garden Poles--Building Out for larger-scale materials.



Skewers and Garden Poles–Building Out

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This activity is a scaled-down version of the Garden Poles--Building Out activity. If you have previously done that activity, you may want to repeat it after trying the skewer activity to emphasize the effects of changing scale. The 9-inch bamboo skewers are about one-sixth the linear dimensions of the garden poles.

What It Is

Initiate the building with skewers in the same manner as you did the garden poles. The students need some time to get familiar with working with skewers and tape. If this is your students' first use of skewers, start with a 45-minute session in which students are asked to build a self-standing structure using 35 skewers and masking tape. Give them the following rules for construction:

  • The tape can only be wrapped twice around any given joint or stick.

  • When joining sticks in a straight line, the sticks may only be taped together at two points (at each of these points, the piece of tape may only be wrapped around twice).


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