This was one of those investigations that was simple, but impressive! My club girls connected math concepts (geometry and measurement) with science concepts (force and gravity). I posed this question to my mighty girls: “Which solid shape (triangular prism, rectangular prism, or cylinder) is the strongest?” The columns were made from construction paper and taped together. We discussed the differences in their construction.
Then, we used a kitchen scale to weigh books of various weights. The lightest book was less than a pound and the science encyclopedia weighed 5 pounds. Before we placed the books on top of the shapes, we made our hypotheses and used previous experiences to support them. Which shape do you think will hold the most weight?
The cylinder easily supported over 11 pounds. How is it different than the other two solid shapes? Then I challenged my mighty girls to make cylindrical columns that would support the most weight. Would a shorter cylinder support more weight than a taller one? Would a wider cylinder be stronger than a thinner one?
Why would it be important for an engineer to know which shape supports the most weight? Try this at home!
The girls in the following photos constructed cylindrical columns with two pieces of paper each. They were able to support over 3o pounds! Wow!