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Building Week Part 2: Strong Shapes

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This is an easy, fun experiment to find out how strong different shapes are. Shape 1 sheet of paper into different shapes and see how much they can hold. We made a triangle, square, and cylinder.

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We used books and loaded them on slowly (in the same order for each shape)

The triangle won with 12+ books! The cylinder held 9 and the square held 5 (but the seam was a little weaker on the square too) We used this information to make a card pyramid and discussed our thoughts on how the Egyptians built their pyramid without modern technology.

A house of cards is rewarding, but frustrating lol!

A coffee break was definitely needed. What are you building this week?!

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Allison Waken is a wife, mom of boys and Phoenix, AZ native. She has been creating inspiring content for All for the Boys since 2011. Allison loves travel, movies and spending as much time as possible with her family while she can!

11 Comments

  1. I just had to click over and see which shape was the strongest… my guess was right. What a great experiment to try with the kiddo. My daughter would love this one! Thank you.

  2. love your idea! I used it as an introduction to a column building contest. We tried this 3 times and found the cylinder to hold the most weight. Just curious if y’all did multiple trials and, if so, what your results were?

    • The cylinder is the strongest shape when it comes to columns. The triangle is the weaker. The more the sides, the more the force can split among them so that each side has to resist less force. So, more sides equal more strength. In case of the cylinder, basically is like a polygon with infinity sides (as small as points). This is why you will hardly see columns with a triangle shape, while you often see Octagons or Hexagons. 🙂

      • I have done this with several groups and the circle held the most with every group. I did it three times myself with the same result. I asked my math and science friends and they said circle. No sides to weaken the structure. Most columns that hold up vast amounts of weight are cylindrical.

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