Toothpick structures are a fantastic, low cost and easy STEM challenge that can keep kids busy for hours. We actually used cocktail sticks, but you could also use straws or spaghetti.
I set the children a challenge to build a structure that would hold a chocolate egg off the ground.
Toothpick structure materials
Toothpicks or cocktail sticks
How to build a toothpick structure
There are no instructions for this one, apart from the building a structure that:
- Stands up with no extra support.
- Only uses the materials above.
- Can hold a small chocolate egg without falling over.
These are the structures my children built. What do you think?
We then tested to see if our structures could also hold chicks and rabbits. These were lighter, so it wasn’t much of a problem.
Things to think about – building a strong toothpick structure
Shapes are a good thing to think about when building toothpick structures like this. We found a square shape with extra support in the form of triangles made a stronger structure.
Triangles, arches and domes are all strong shapes and are used by engineers to make structures strong. Next time you see a bridge count how many different shapes you can see.
Imagine a square made from straws. If you push down it will fold down on itself, but a triangle won’t collapse unless one of its sides breaks. Any force applied to a triangle is evenly distributed from the vertex to the base. This means triangles are much stronger than squares.
Free activity sheet
Can you build a tower that is at least 10cm high? Or 20 cm high?
How about a tower that can hold three chocolate eggs?
Can you build the chicks a new house? We used blueberries for this one.
More Science for Kids
Learn about strong shapes with paper columns.
Build a zip line to transport an Easter egg to a friend.
Or try one of our easy spring science experiments for kids.
What else could you use to stick the toothpicks to each other? How about mini marshmallows?
Last Updated on March 25, 2023 by Emma Vanstone
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