Build a Tower





Name of Activity

Build a Tower




Simple Machines, sturdy shapes, structure, beam, brick, plate, axle, bushing, connector peg, sturdy shapes, triangles, bracing


Simple Machines

Grade Level

K, 1, 2, 3


1 Hour Total

Brief Description

– Students will build a tower that is at least 4-6 inches high. The tower must be sturdy enough to hold up a book/stack of books.

Lesson Objectives:

– Familiarize students with sturdy building using their LEGO Simple Machines kits.

– Use sturdy shapes to build a structure.

– Build engineering/LEGO vocabulary.

Materials Needed:

– LEGO Simple Machines kit.

– Stack of books.

– Rulers.

– ‘Engineer’s Planning Sheets’.

– ‘Engineer’s Final Report’ Worksheet.

Preparation and Set Up:

– Make enough copies of each worksheet for the class.

– Collect a book/stack of books to use for testing.

– Gather a couple of rulers to test tower height.

– Arrange students in pairs.

– Distribute materials.

Necessary Background

The engineering design process is an eight step process that engineers use to design:

Step 1. Identify the need/problem

Step 2. Research the need/problem

Step 3. Develop possible solutions

Step 4. Select the best possible solution

Step 5. Construct a prototype

Step 6. Test and evaluate the solution(s)

Step 7. Communicate the solution(s)

Step 8. Redesign


Pieces –




Connector Peg

Friction Peg



Axle Extender

Sturdy Shapes




  1. Review sturdy building from prior activities, especially “Building Strong Shapes”.
    1. Talk about overlapping beam/bricks
    2. Talk about using pegs to connect pieces and how using two pegs to connect two beams means the beams won’t rotate.
    3. Talk about how you can use axles and bushings in a similar way that you can use pegs to attach beams.
    4. Make sure to give the students a height requirement – 4 to 6 inches.

  • Use the Engineering Design Process to introduce and teach the lesson
    1. Brainstorm: Have students think of ways to build sturdy structures and what a LEGO tower might look like.
    2. Choose and Plan: Have students fill out the ‘Engineer’s Planning Sheet’ and circle what each partner will build. Although each person does their own worksheet each pair will need to agree on a plan.
    3. Create: Haves students build the towers. If students have trouble help s tudents use their sturdy building techniques.
    4. Test: Each tower must pass two tests.
      1. Height Test: The tower must be at least 4 inches tall (measure with a ruler).
      2. Weight Test: Each tower must hold the weight of a book/stack of books.

  • Redesign: Students must rebuild their designs after failed tests. Talk with students about what can be done differently to pass the test.
  • Share:
    1. Have students fill out the ‘Engineer’s Final Report’
    2. Come together as a class to discuss the activity.
      1. Let each pair share what they have created.
      2. Talk about problems groups had and how they fixed them.

    Extensions or Modifications:

    – Have students build a tower that will support the students weight/hold more books.

    – Have students build a taller tower.

    – Build a structure that can pick up a stack of books.

    – Using a baseplate for this lesson may be helpful for students.

    Reference 1

    Reference 2

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