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Easy Towers Using Only 12 Items

Easy prep, easy materials, easy towers! You will love these three tower challenges (and students will, too!)

These easy tower challenges are some of the best things I have invented! No, I’m actually serious. Sometimes I have an idea for the STEM Lab and it just works. Beautifully!  

Now, don’t get me wrong. I also have moments where everything goes south and the project fizzles and we just laugh it off.  

But, occasionally a moment of genius happens and it is amazing and fun. These easy tower projects just happen to be the best of times!

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Twelve straws, or 12 cards, or 12 inches of foil. They must build the tallest tower possible.

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Let’s take a quick look!

I have 3 towers in this easy tower set. They each use one main building material and in a quantity of only 12. Twelve cards, 12 straws, or 12 inches of foil.

  • The Background and Original Challenge
  • Straws Modified (and genius)
  • Cards Original
  • Cards Modified (also genius)
  • Foil Towers

The Background of Easy Towers and Original Challenge

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Using only 12 straws students must build the tallest tower possible.

This set of challenges originated with something very basic. Use the easiest and smallest amount of materials possible. I constantly look for ways to simplify because of teaching multiple classes.

So, the Dozens Challenges were born from this need. Use only 12 of something was the idea.

With the first one, we used 12 straws to build a tower.

The next year (when it was time to repeat this challenge) I had a major brain pop!

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Using only 12 straws students must build the tallest tower possible.

What if we added something wacky to the challenge? Twelve straws and just random do-dads.   I went through my cabinets and gathered an assortment of weird things- interlocking cubes, washers, bottle caps, cups, empty tape inserts, and anything else that I thought could be used.

We made this even more fun by giving every team something different. They all had 12 straws, but each had 4 of one of the weird items. We had so much fun with these. Some of the items worked great and were very useful and some were challenging.

Straws Modified

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Using only 12 straws students must build the tallest tower possible.

Then I had another major genius idea. What if the tower had to resemble something? So I made some picture task cards. The challenge became to build whatever tower was on the card.  

Just take a look at the photo to the left.

It’s the Eiffel Tower. This team added bands of brown paper to make the different levels of the tower. Pretty clever!

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Using only 12 straws students must build the tallest tower possible.

On the left is the Space Needle with the platform at the top. On the right is the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  

This modification added just a tad more challenge to this activity and it was so fun during sharing time.

I also learned that students were familiar with some of these worldwide landmarks!

12 Cards Easy Tower

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Using only 12 index cards students must build the tallest tower possible.

Another part of the Dozens set is the Index Card Tower challenge- using only 12 index cards. This one is super easy to do. The only problem we have ever had with it is that almost every tower ends up being the same size. With only twelve cards you are limited in height.

This takes some of the competitiveness out of this challenge, so, what if added the landmark rule to this one?

12 Cards Modified Version

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Using only 12 index cards students must build the tallest tower possible.

The new challenge is to build a model of a famous landmark (like the 12 straws challenge.)

On the left is the Leaning Tower of Pisa and on the right is the Statue of Liberty!

Foil Towers

STEM Challenge- students use a main building materials in a quantity of only 12. Using only 12 inches of foil students must build the tallest tower possible.

I would have to say this easy tower with 12 inches of foil is not…

easy!

It is actually quite challenging. THe final towers are not very tall (usually) and they collapse easily. Students love building these anyway!

By the way, I use pre-cut sheets of foil for this challenge. I do not measure it!

Three easy prep and fun challenges that you can throw together quickly. Twelve cards, 12 straws, or 12 inches of foil!

No matter which version you choose to try I promise your students will amaze you with their creativity – and with such limited materials! Have fun! (Click on any image to see details in my store!)

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