Back To School STEAM: Book Tower Challenge

When you come across tower activities for kids, you might think, “This looks easy. How does this benefit my kids?” First, don’t be fooled! Tower challenges can be more difficult than you think. Second, in addition to teaching children basic STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles, tower activities teach kids a wide range of skills that benefit them in school and beyond, including creative thinking, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. Plus, they’re easy to set up and are so much fun for kids!

For this Book Tower STEAM Challenge, kids will need to create a freestanding tower that is as tall as possible using only paper and paper clips. (Feel free to substitute other materials based on the resources you have available, or try out different materials to see how they might build their tower differently.) After building their tower, have them test it to see if it can hold five or more hardback books.

Book Tower STEAM Challenge

Challenge: Using only paper and paper clips, build the tallest freestanding structure possible that can hold at least 5 hardback books.

Materials: 20 sheets of paper, 20 paper clips

Time: 7 minutes (you can modify the time limit for young children)


A. 10 points if your structure is holding 5 hardback books
B. 15 points if your structure is holding 8 or more hardback books
C. 10 points if your paper tower is 11 inches or shorter
15 points if your paper tower is 12-21 inches
20 points if your paper tower is 22 inches or more
D. Up to 20 points for how creatively your group uses the materials
E. Up to 20 points for how well your group works together


Processing Questions:

  • What was the hardest part of building your tower?
  • If you could use different materials to build your tower, what would you use?
  • If you were to build your tower again, what would you do differently?


If you enjoyed this activity, check out these 5 free STEAM challenges, perfect for at home or in the classroom.


STEAM Education for Any Learning Environment

Need long-term STEAM projects for your kids or classroom? Destination Imagination is an international creative problem-solving competition that teaches students invaluable life and career skills—creative thinking, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration—and fosters their social-emotional development. This school year, teams have the option to participate in our in-person Challenge Experience or our virtual Challenge Experience. Start your team and join us for the ultimate creative problem-solving adventure this school year!

The best creative problem-solving adventure start here. Start your Destination Imagination team today.


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