Build a Tower





Name of Activity Build a Tower
Author STOMP
Keywords Simple Machines, sturdy shapes, structure, beam, brick, plate, axle, bushing, connector peg, sturdy shapes, triangles, bracing
Subject Simple Machines
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3
Time 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.
  2. 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.
    5. Redesign: Students must rebuild their designs after failed tests. Talk with students about what can be done differently to pass the test.
    6. 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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Reference 4
Reference 5

Building Strong Shapes






Name of Activity Building Strong Shapes
Author STOMP
Keywords Triangle, square, braced square, LEGO, Simple Machines, sturdy, beam, brick, plate, axle, bushing, friction peg, connector peg, axle extender
Subject Simple Machines
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3
Time 1 Hour Total
Lesson Objectives: - Familiarize students with specific LEGO building strategies and any new pieces.
- How to use pegs (friction and connection).
- Building a triangle and a square.
- Bracing with beams.
- Teach the names of LEGO building pieces.
- Reinforce knowledge of shapes.
Brief Description Students will be guided through this activity, building a triangle, a square, and a braced square using LEGO pieces. Students will then attempt to build a sturdy box on their own with LEGO pieces from their kit.
Materials Needed: - LEGO Simple Machine kit.
Preparation and Set Up: - Construct example shapes.
- Arrange students in pairs.
- Distribute LEGO kits.
Necessary Background N/A
  1. Review sturdy building and names of pieces (it may help to have an overhead or poster of pieces and their names):
    1. Overlapping beams and bricks are stronger than non-overlapping ones
    2. Three stacked plates are the same height as one beam.
  2. Show students how to build in ways other than stacking pieces (pegs, axles and bushings, etc.).
  3. Have students make a triangle.
    1. Show students on your example how you can use both pegs and axles with bushings to connect beams.
    2. Push on your triangle to show how strong and sturdy it is.
  4. Show students a pre-built square
    1. Show on your demo model that the square is not sturdy and talk about why.
    2. Have students brainstorm ways to make a square sturdy.
  5. Have students build a square and add a diagonal brace to their square to make it sturdy.
    1. Show students that by adding the brace you have created two triangles and remind students that triangles are very sturdy shapes.
  6. Have students use this new knowledge to build a sturdy box.
    1. Tell students that the sides of the box do not need to be closed.
    2. Use the Engineering Design Process in the process of building the box.
      1. Create: Build the box using the pieces introduced in this lesson
      2. Test: apply 2 tests
        1. Flick Test – the box won’t collapse when pushed
        2. Drop Test – box doesn’t break when dropped from ankle height.
      3. Redesign: Rebuild the box until it passes the tests. Consider ways to make the box stronger.
      4. Share: Come together as a class to share designs.
        1. Talk about difficulties that different groups had in building their box and how they overcame these difficulties.
        2. Identify different shapes in the boxes and the pieces that the groups used.
        3. Talk about ways that different groups made their boxes stronger.
        4. Look around the classroom for examples of sturdy shapes and sturdy building.
Extensions or Modifications: - Introduce measurement and have the students measure their creations using different units.
- Build the widest/longest structure.
- Build the shortest structure using only 10 pieces.
Sample Image 1
Sample Image 2

Pulley Wall





Name ofActivity Pulley Wall
Author STOMP
Keywords pulley, wheel, beam, axle, wall, driver, follower, tension, bushing
Subject Simple Machines
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3
Time 1 Hour Total
Lesson Objectives: - Introduce students to pulleys and how pulleys work.
- Teach students new LEGO pieces (pulley wheel, pulley band).
- Show students how pulleys can be useful in engineering and elsewhere.
Brief Description Each student will build a 2-pulley wheel pulley using a beam, 2 pulley wheels, 2 axles, 2 bushings, and a pulley band. Each team of students will connect their pulley walls together so that one driver turns the other three pulley wheels.
Materials Needed: - LEGO Simple Machine Kit.
- ‘Engineer’s Final Report’ Worksheet.
Preparation and Set Up:
- Arrange students in pairs.

- Distribute LEGO Simple Machine Kits.
- Make copies of ‘Engineer’s Final Report’.

Necessary Background Pulleys consist of one or more wheels with a rope or band that wraps around the grove
on the circumference of the wheel. Pulleys are used in many different engineered designs.
A simple example is a well that has one pulley wheel and a rope, used to lift a bucket.
Other examples include, belt systems in cars, roping on sail boats, and in cranes.

Driver – the pulley wheel that is moved by a motor or person.
Follower – the pulley wheel that moves when the driver moves, a pulley system
can have more than one follower.
Tension – The tightness of the pulley band or rope.

  1. Introduce pulleys
    1. explain what a pulley is, show some example pictures of pulleys and how they are useful
    2. Show students the pieces they will be using to build their LEGO pulley (pulley wheel, band).
      1. Point out the different sized wheels and bands.
    3. Demonstrate to the class what they will be doing, by constructing an example pulley wheel in front of the class.
    4. Show the students how your pulley works and ask students to explain how one pulley moves the other pulley.
    5. Introduce the vocabulary and talk about the driver and follower (the one you turn is the driver and the one that turns as a result is the follower. The driver and follower can switch).
    6. Ask the students to observe which pulley moves faster when teh small pulley is the driver and when the big pulley is the driver.
    7. Tell the stuents that they will each build their own pulley wall consisting of 2-pulley wheels (one driver and one follower).
      1. If students have trouble show them how the tension of their pulley band may be affecting its performance, either too tight or too loose. This can be fixed by using different sized bands or moving the pulley wheels up and down the beam.
    8. Explain that once each student has constructed their own wall, they will attach their wall to their partner’s wall to make a long pulley with four pulley wheels (one driver and three followers).
    9. Give students hints about how to connect two pulley walls together with an extra beam and pulley band.
    10. When students are finished have students fill out the ‘Engineer’s Final Report’ and have them label the driver and the follower pulley wheels.
    11. Allow each group to demonstrate their pulley wall and how they work.
Extensions or Modifications: - Have students add a pulley wheel to make even longer pulley walls (teacher may need to supply extra wheels and bands).
- Let two groups work in a team of four to attach their pulley walls to make an 8 wheel wall.
Sample Image 1
Sample Image 2
Sample Image 3

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