Building a Straw Tower

by Jimmie Lanley on May 27, 2009

Using only tape and straws,  Sprite and I built a tower capable of holding a baseball! Here’s proof!

straw tower on porch

Tower from Straws and Tape

This  assignment from the Livingmath.net curriculum was not an easy project because there were no directions, just an assignment — build a tower from straws.  Never having constructed anything like this nor ever having seen a straw tower, I was rather frustrated at the lack of detail offered. I mean, how can we make something that we have no concept of at all?

I could only find one resource that had directions — How to Build a Straw Tower Capable of Holding a Baseball. So we roughly followed the guidelines laid out there, and it worked. Sprite and I are not short on creativity, but we certainly need some sort of foundation to work on. The article fit the bill. Here are our steps.

straw tower cutting strawsstraw towe square and triangle

First we had to cut off the bendy part of each straw. Then we made a triangle and a square to compare the strengths of each shape. It was easy to see that a triangle is much stronger than a square. But we followed our directions and made an octagon base pentagon base. (Whoops! Thanks, Chaz, for pointing out my error.)

straw tower making pentagon base

straw tower making long side1 straw tower making long side3

For the side structures, we made long pieces from six straws by inserting straws into other straws.

straw tower making long side straw tower long sides and base done

We used tape to reinforce the joints. Here are our completed base and sides.

straw tower taping sides to base straw tower taping supports

Then we began connecting the sides to the base. Just taping this thing together was tricky! We tried lots of ways before we found methods that worked. We used a LOT of tape. But there was nothing in the directions about being pretty. The one criteria was that it hold a baseball.

straw tower center support

We also constructed a center support. Then we were exhausted and tired of yellow straws! So things got a bit silly!

straw tower acting silly straw tower microphone

sprite trimming straw tower close up of tape1

The next day, we resumed work on the tower. We trimmed it to a shorter height and added horizontal  supports all around. Not pretty, by any means, but it was strong! Now the test. Here is Sprite, gingerly testing the structure with a baseball.

placing the baseball1placing the baseball2placing the baseball3

IT WORKS!

placing the baseball4

Books with projects using straws:

Or cheat with a building kit:

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda May 27, 2009 at 9:14 pm

OK. This looks like some serious fun!

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Martha May 28, 2009 at 2:30 am

Love seeing all you do.

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missy May 28, 2009 at 7:40 am

It looks like sprite had a good time making this!

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Tiany May 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

This is very neat! I will have to try this with my boys. I love your new Blog! :-)

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Dawn June 1, 2009 at 3:20 am

Very! Vwey! cool…. I love seeing all of your neat projects.
Blessings,
Dawn

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Marsha June 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm

YAY for Sprite and for you! Very cool indeedy.

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Melissa Telling June 2, 2009 at 1:33 am

Looks like fun. I bet my boys would have fun with this project.

The new blog is very nice. Looking forward to seeingwha you do with it. I will miss the old one though. :-(

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Laura June 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Just wanted to thank you for sharing this as you inspired me to have my oldest son build one.

http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2009/06/flurry-of-activity-x-6-end-of-school.html

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chaz October 30, 2009 at 3:15 am

that base is pentagonal not octagonal

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Jimmie October 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Chaz,
You are so right! I did write “octagon base.” And it’s clearly NOT an octagon. Whoops! I will change that! Thanks so much for the correction.

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eric shaun December 4, 2009 at 2:36 am

i love th design, i’m doing it for an engineer project

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Hoff, Jack December 9, 2009 at 2:05 am

The octagonal base is great for support.

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Tess Steckle December 9, 2009 at 2:07 am

Hi, i am doing a project just like this, but we haveto use paper clips instead of tape. anyone have ideas.

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Harry Kuntz December 9, 2009 at 2:12 am

i would poke a hole threw the straw and attach the 2 paper clips toghther

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elisa December 16, 2009 at 10:25 am

thank you so much this really helped me in school

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patrick January 29, 2010 at 10:46 pm

thanks! This helped me get an A!

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Jimmie February 3, 2010 at 9:25 pm

@Patrick — Horray! What wonderful news!

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Wierdo February 11, 2010 at 12:47 am

Thanks for the help…I might use the idea =D

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jayant March 15, 2010 at 7:25 pm

thats good..
do u also have some oter models

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Father jude March 31, 2010 at 1:20 am

it faled me

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Nicole April 30, 2010 at 12:16 am

Me and my partner, Heather are required to build a straw tower using 40 straws, 3 feet of tape, and 6 pipe cleaners. How many straws did you use? (:
Maybe you can give us some helpful tips on our tower?

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Cris P Bacon September 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

love it thanks

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jasmine November 24, 2010 at 10:11 am

thats good

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aolle December 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm

hi…. can anyone tell me if i can build a straw tower made out of 30 straws??????

—–b’coz that’s my problem… we only to have 30 straws and have to create a strong foundation when slammed can stand again,,,,,,

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bob February 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm

yes you can

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bob February 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm

yes, very easy follow the above

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Naima May 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I’m doing the same project at school, and i was just woundering how long did it take to make the straw tower?

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hayley December 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

about 1 hour (no break)

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Marty Smarty August 31, 2011 at 9:12 am

hey how about putting three legged straw towers on here

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irma October 13, 2011 at 8:02 am

good design :)

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hayley December 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

my team in tech had to bulid one of this and were winning.

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Bikram Singh February 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm

woww……. good design ..

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Kasey February 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Thank you so much! This really helped me with my science project. Especially the part about cutting off the bendy part of the straws!! :-)

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