Spaghetti Towers





Name of Activity

Spaghetti Towers


Laura Fradin, Jake Hellman


spaghetti, towers, introduction, engineering, 5th grade, aguayo, marshmallows, tape



Grade Level

1, 2, 3, 4, 5


1 Hour Total

Brief Description

Students build the tallest tower possible out of spaghetti, tape, and place a marshmallow at the top of their tower.

Lesson Objectives:

-Intro to Engineering

-Understand what constraints are

-Triangles are stronger than squares

-Failure is okay

Materials Needed:

-spaghetti (10 pieces for every group)

-tape (1 ft for every group)

-marshmallows (1 per group)

-measuring tape

Preparation and Set Up:

-arrange students in pairs

-collect necessary materials

Necessary Background

Start the Class with an Intro to Engineering. What is engineering? What does an engineer do? Once students have a basic understanding of what engineering is, tell them we are going to do an engineering challenge!


1) Explain the activity. They will have 15 minutes to build the tallest tower out of 10 pieces of spaghetti and 12 inches of tape. The marshmallow must balance at the top of the tower.  The time limit and the limited amount of materials given are known as constraints. (No you can’t eat the marshmallows. We will be measuring from to the top of the marshmallow so don’t use it as  a base) 2) Split students into pairs and let them work for 15 minutes. Wander the classroom and talk about different designs. See if any groups need help. 3) When time runs out, have everyone take a look at the various tower designs. Which ones are the tallest? What did you have trouble with in this challenge? What do you think you needed to make a better tower? How did you make yours stand up? Did the weight of the marshmallow make any towers collapse? 4) Explain the difference in stability between triangle and square/rectangle structures. 5) Engineers have to work with constraints all the time. Failure is just a part of the Engineering Design Process.

Reference 2

1 comment on this post.
  1. Dan Luo:

    We did this at the second week to introduce the concept of engineering process. The class were asked to build spaghetti tower with limited resources after drawing their designs on paper . The student displayed a great enthusiasm. Most of them successfully indicated the required conditions for a stable structure, and some of the works showed great creativity.

    The pre-design process is very useful to let student experience real engineering process and understand the importance of designing process in any engineering projects.

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