Physics and Astronomy

Heavy Engineering
Heavy Engineering

Student teams will be given, at the start of the event (not before), a construction task (Example: 'build the tallest, free standing tower.') to complete within a time limit. Each team will have 10 minutes to plan together and then 20 minutes to build. The remaining time will be used for clean-up and scoring.

Participants Teams of up to 6 people.

Materials supplied by the Science Olympics Committee:

In a ziploc bag:

  1. 6.0 m of twine;
  2. 12 elastic bands 3.5" x 0.25".
  3. 25 toothpicks.
  4. 25 Craft Sticks 4.5" x 3/8" x 1/12"
  5. 25 wooden coffee stirrers 7" x 0.25" x 1/16"
  6. 25 paper clips 2", corrugated
  7. 1 30 cm ruler;
  8. 1 pair of scissors;
  9. 1 pencil;

The following additional materials will be provided for the construction of the structure:

  1. 1 sheet of bristol board 22½" x 28½"
  2. 4 sheets of bond paper, 8.5" x 11"
  3. 10 Sheets of newspaper
  4. 2 m of 1/2" green painters masking tape
  5. Five paper cups
  6. Tennis balls
  7. The judges may also supply a mystery item or two.

Download the kit list and sources.


Teams must use only the equipment (scissors, rulers etc.) and materials (string, tape, newspaper, etc.) that are provided. No additional equipment or construction materials will be allowed.

FAQ Q1: Can the scissors, stapler, ruler and pencil be used as components of the structure the students are building?
A1: Only the building materials are allowed to be part of the structure. The tools may not be so used.

The specific judging criteria will be given only at the time of the event in hopes that pre-planning is minimized and that ingenuity is maximized.

Clean Up Each team will help clean up their area of the room, and re-fill the zip-loc bags with the correct amount of replacement materials. Teams that clean up neatly and re-fill the Ziploc bags accurately will be awarded bonus points.
Preparation In preparation, teams might consider trying to build any 'highest', 'widest', or 'most supportive' structure by using paper and tape. This event in past years was to: "Build the tallest free-standing structure that supported the most tennis balls." Points were awarded as follows: height (cm) x number of tennis balls.
Source London District Science Olympics. This event was designed by Dennis Trankner and John Welbourn. It has been expanded by John Budge.

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