The Abracadabra of Engineering: Strong Structures from Flimsy Materials

NASA needs to create lightweight trusses to use on space craft. But how do you hold up a stack of books with nothing more than paper? This activity takes teams through the process of building a section of truss out of nothing more than paper. The activity ends with a detailed explanation of how the forces work together to create a strong lightweight truss.

11 Views 12 Downloads NGSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • The ideas in this resource can be transferred to bridge designs
  • Prior to doing the activity, have the class research different types of boom designs
Classroom Considerations

  • Splitting up the work within the teams helps with the time it takes to construct a truss
  • The structure depends upon the precision of the build; sloppy work will create a less stable truss

  • Step-by-step directions provide the guidance needed to build the truss
  • The end of the resource provides an explanation of how the truss is capable of being strong

  • None