Maker Monday: Build a Braced Tower

John Hancock Center

Photo of John Hancock Center by Drew Hays on Unsplash

February’s STEAM at Home program featured Awesome Architecture and fun building activities. We learned that x-bracing (seen here on the John Hancock Center in Chicago) is one way that helps keep buildings straight and tall when wind blows on them. X-braces and shear walls collect wind forces and carry them to the foundation. Build your own braced tower at home with a few simple materials! Idea and images from Building Structures and Towers by Tammy Enz.

  • Supplies:
  • spaghetti
  • mini marshmallows (the book shows gumdrops, but we used marshmallows)
  • ruler (optional)

Instructions:

Break 4 noodles in half and make sure they are roughly the same length. Put marshmallows in the corners to connect them into 2 squares.

null

Break off about 1 inch from 4 more noodles and use these to connect your 2 squares. What happens when you push on the tower?

null

Add 2 noodles to one side make an X. Repeat on all 4 sides of your tower. Try pushing again. Now what happens?

null

As the marshmallows harden, your structure will get even stronger. What other structures can you build?

For more books and projects that explore engineering, check out one of these STEAM Kits.