Why take the Eureka Challenge?
This challenge encourages you and your family to think about geometry and about how different shapes create structure.
Many structures are made from joining straight pieces together at different angles. By creating your own tower you and your family will learn about the interaction between height, weight, and stability.
How tall can you make your tower?
Watch Richa introduce the Eureka Challenge.
Connections to real life
Builders and engineers apply maths skills to design and construct houses, bridges and towers.
Melbourne architectural firm Fender Katsalidis used geometry when designing Eureka Tower, a 297.3-metre skyscraper in Melbourne.
1. Setting the scene
Strong structures can be seen in nature (think about your own skeleton) and in the things we build.
- What do you and your family already know about structural engineering?
- How do we make structures strong, stable and tall?
- Do the shapes we find in buildings matter?
- What can you learn from structures which are made from joining straight pieces together at different angles?
Check out the video below for more information to get you started.
Links to the curriculum
angle – an angle is the figure formed by two lines sharing a common end, which is called the vertex of the angle (like the corner of a page).
horizontal – an object is in a horizontal position if it is lined up with a flat surface. For example, a tabletop or a benchtop is horizontal.
vertical – an object is in a vertical position if it runs up or down. For example, a table leg or chair leg is usually in a vertical position.
Find more maths words in the Glossary.
2. The Challenge
Build the tallest free standing tower you can.
- Gather your construction team. You may want to involve a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, or family friend.
- Collect as much paper as you like (think about using old newspapers or junk-mail – no cardboard).
- Find some sticky tape, scissors and a tape measure if you want to measure how tall your finished tower is.
- Clear some space, take as much time as you like, and using the paper, sticky tape and scissors start building.
- Grab a camera to capture images or video of your tower.
- Reflect: what has building a tower taught you about the interaction between height, weight and stability?
If you are stuck, here are some questions and suggestions that might help.
What if you try to build a smaller tower? Can you learn anything from this to help you build a taller tower?
Can drawing a diagram help you design your tower?
You could also try looking for patterns or shapes in existing towers that might help you build yours.
Check out our gallery to see what other families have achieved.
3. Keep going
Watch the video below and see what first year engineering students learn when they are challenged to build a one metre paper tower that holds one kilogram. Then see if your family can do the same.
- Now, try this: Using paper and sticky tape, make a bridge that crosses a gap of at least 30 centimetres.
- Will your bridge hold a shoe? Whose shoe could it hold?
- Watch the videos below to learn more about building skycrapers, towers and bridges, as well as the maths behind the Eiffel Tower.