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.

STEM Challenge - toothpick Structure

Toothpick structure materials

Toothpicks or cocktail sticks

Plasticine

Paper

Chocolate eggs

How to build a toothpick structure

There’s 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 the a chocolate egg without falling over.

These are the structures my children built, what do you think?

STEM Challenge - toothpick Structures
Easy STEM Challenge - toothpick Structures

After the eggs we tested to see if our structures could also hold chicks and rabbits, these were lighter so it wasn’t much of a problem.

STEM Challenge - toothpick Structures

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 with fold down on itself, but a triangle won’t collapse unless one of its sides break. Any force applied to a triangle  is evenly distributed from the vertex to the base, this means triangles are much stronger than squares.

Extension ideas

Can you build a tower that is at least 10cm high? Or 20 cm high?

How about a tower that can hold 3 chocolate eggs?

Can you build the chicks a new house? We used blueberries for this one.

toothpick chick house

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?

Toothpick Tower STEM Challenge - build towers with toothpicks to support an egg #EASTERSTEM #STEMforkids #scienceforkids

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Originally posted at Science Sparks