Which Shape is the Strongest?
Second grade engineers reviewed the names of solid shapes, including prisms and cylinders. Students paired and discussed which shape they believed would hold the most weight. Most of our debate focused on whether corners would or would not make the shape stronger. We weighed the books on a kitchen scale before we placed them on the pillars. We discovered that the cylinder easily supported the most weight. We looked at how cylindrical columns are used by engineers, but we recognized that God was the first engineer!
Next, I tasked my engineers with building cylindrical columns. They had many design choices, but teams were only able to use four pieces of paper. Masking tape, scotch tape, and rubber bands were available. Would their cylinders be tall, short, thin, or wide? Would more cylinders hold more weight? How does balance impact your structure? I witnessed collaboration and problem solving as they constructed their pillars. Several engineers used all four pieces of paper to make one stronger cylinder. Others made multiple cylinders and taped them together. What would happen if we made more cylinders and distributed the weight? There was much celebrating as they tested their designs. One structure held 24 pounds, but many others held at least 12 pounds! (Each book weighed 2 pounds.)