We will be sharing a STEM challenge children can do at home here every Friday. Complete the challenge and share your results on social media with @BramptonLibrary #kidsatBL! 

This week’s challenge: 

This week we are challenging children to construct structures using sheets of newspaper.

  • Challenge #1: Build the tallest tower
  • Challenge #2: Build the strongest structure

Supplies you will need:

  • Tape
  • Newspapers (we recommend using a broadsheet newspaper if possible, such as from the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, or National Post, but you could use any newspaper you have available. If you don’t have access to a newspaper, that’s okay, too! Just use whatever scrap paper you have)
  • Measuring tape or a ruler
  • Books 

Challenge #1: Tallest Tower

Build the tallest free-standing structure you can build, using only: 

  • 6 pieces of newspaper
  • 1 metre of tape

You can rip, fold, roll, or do anything else you need to the newspaper!

Challenge #2: Strong Structure

Build a structure that can hold 5 books at least 20 centimetres off the ground for at least 5 full seconds without collapsing, using only:

  • 10 pieces of newspaper
  • 1 metre of tape
  • 1 ruler or measuring tape

You can rip, fold, roll, or do anything else you need to the newspaper!

Image source: DiscoverE

Tips to get started: 

We might not think of newspapers as very strong, but we can transform their pages into tall or strong structures with one simple tip! Begin by rolling the newspaper into tightly-rolled tubes.


Image sources: DiscoverE

Tightly-rolled tubes can create strong shapes that distribute weight, pushing on every part of the paper, not just one spot. When you are building your structures, think of which shapes would be good at distributing weight evenly!

If you look at the tallest buildings in the world, you will notice many of them have wide, strong supports on the bottom. This spreads the surface area that is supporting the high height to a wider space at the base to allow for more stability.

If you liked this activity, you might enjoy these free resources from our digital library

Roberto the Insect Architect by Nina Laden (animated picture book, available through Kanopy, recommended for 3-8 years)


DK Eyewitness Books: Building by Philip Wilkinson (non-fiction ebook, recommended for 9-13 years)

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (mystery/fantasy ebook, recommended for 9-13 years)

Castle by David Macaulay (non-fiction ebook, recommended for 10-15 years)

Resources for grown-ups:

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