How Strong Is Paper?

Strong Paper (5)

This quick lesson on engineering was an absolute delight, for kids and grown ups both. A lot of Travis’s toys are packed up due to an upcoming move to a new home, but we still have items to play with. To wit, all we needed for this experiment was computer paper and books. The question was: just how strong was our paper?

First, I asked Travis simply to fold a couple of sheets of paper into a tent shape – could that hold up a book?

Strong Paper (2)

No way! Immediate collapse.

Strong Paper (3)

Now we needed to try something more structurally sound. Wrap three sheets of paper around cans, and tape to seal. Slide out the cans.

Strong Paper (4)

Set up the three sheets of paper like columns (those ancient Greeks were onto something…). I asked Travis to start piling on the books, and to his absolute delight, the paper remained standing. We couldn’t believe how big our pile grew – 3 books, 4 books, 5 books…

Strong Paper (6)

We had laid on about 15 of slender volumes when we decided to really test things.

Strong Paper (7)

It wasn’t until we added a fat hardcover book that the paper buckled and the whole pile collapsed – to Travis’s delight!

Strong Paper (8)

Needless to say, even I was impressed with how much weight the paper held. This activity is guaranteed fun, whether or not your little engineer grasps all of the concepts involved.

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