The Paper Triangle Oreo Challenge is one of our favorite activities at Discovery Station! This engineering activity explores one of the strongest architectural shapes – the triangle! Kids will have a blast building bridges out of paper and then testing their designs with the weight of Oreo cookies.
- Oreo Cookies
- Paper Cutter
Print out the Paper Triangle Oreo Challenge Worksheet. Draw two bridge designs using paper triangles. You will test both designs to see which bridge works best to support the weight of the Oreo cookies.
- Step One With adult supervision cut the paper into long strips that are one-inch wide. One piece of paper should make about 8 long strips.
- Step Two: Cut the long strips of paper into 3-6 inch sections.
- Step Three: Repeat until you have at least two-to-three dozen long strips of paper.
- Step Four: Fold one strip of paper into three even sections and tape the paper so that it forms a triangle. Repeat until you have a large number of triangles formed.
- Step Five: It’s time to build! Start positioning the triangles in a row alternating between triangles that are right side up and upside down.
- Step Six: Add a strip of paper or two on top of each layer. When you have a few layers you can test how strong your paper structure is by balancing objects on top of it! When you are ready, begin stacking Oreo cookies on top of the bridge until it collapses.
Triangles are used in bridges because they evenly distribute weight without changing their proportions. When force is applied to a shape like a rectangle it would flatten out. Before triangles were used in bridges, they were weak and could not be very big. To solve that problem engineers would put a post in the middle of a square and make it more sturdy.
This beam turns the square into two triangles that can each distribute weight evenly. the square is not able to buckle because the middle beam is fastened to the corners of the square. The corners can’t move any closer or any farther from each other because the beam keeps them in place. Architects use many triangles in bridges.
Join Jessi and Squeaks from SciShow Kids to learn more about what makes bridges so strong!