Card Towers

Concepts and skillsProblem-solving, weight distribution, engineering design


Recommended ages: 6 (with some assistance!) and up



A couple decks of playing cards or index cards

Objects of various sizes, shapes, and weights (i.e. pennies or other coins, books, etc.)

Masking or scotch tape as desired


What to do: Try to build as many sturdy structures as you can with the playing cards and test them by seeing if they will hold up any of the objects you've gathered to test their durability. Use these printable cards for an extra challenge!


Investigative Questions: What type of structure was able to hold the most weight?
What other weaker materials around your house, similar to the cards, could you use to build a structure that holds weight?



Marshmallow Forces

Concepts and skills: Fine motor skills, compression, tension, flexion, and torsion


Recommended ages: 8 and up



Large marshmallows


Observation sheets


What to do: Use your marker to draw a grid on the marshmallow. Apply the different forces to the marshmallows using your hands and record the changes to the marshmallow grid on the observation sheet to see the effect of these forces in real time. Instructions on how to apply said forces are found on observation sheet.


Optional: When done, enjoy a marker-free marshmallow as a reward for all of your hard work!


More information: Tension occurs when an object is being pulled by something on either side of it. Compression occurs when an object is being pushed into by something on either side of it. Flexion occurs when an object is being bent, and torsion occurs when it is being twisted.


Keeping each of these forces in mind while building something is very important because an imbalance in these forces can be very damaging to any structure you build! 


Investigative Questions: Which force kept your grid most intact? Least? What would happen to your grid if you used more than one force on it?



Cup Pyramid (With a Twist!)

Concepts and skills: Fine motor skills, communication/team-building skills, engineering design, problem-solving, weight distribution


Recommended ages: 5 and up (great for the whole family!)



25 plastic cups

Rubber band or ponytail holder



What to do: Cut 12” pieces of string or yarn (as many pieces as you have people - this activity works best with 4-8 people) and tie to the rubber band, as evenly spread out as possible. Standing in a circle, have everyone pick up their string and work together to pull on the string to stretch out the rubber band.


When the rubber band is expanded enough, lower it around the cup, and allow the rubber band to close around the cup by releasing some of the tension on the string. Using this method, work together to stack as many cups as you can into a pyramid! It may help to have the cups up on a table so everyone doesn’t have to squat down to the ground.


Investigative Questions: Can you take apart your cup pyramid the same way you stacked them? Is it easier or harder? Can you build another cup structure other than a pyramid?