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Structure Design: Carry that weight!

  • 1 or more Kinazium sets
  • Small weights (or set of objects that can act as weights)
Amount of time:
  • 45 - 60 minutes
Grade Levels:
  • 5th - 12th


This activity introduces the idea of structural engineering by showing how different structures will be able to hold more weight than others.



  1. This is a challenge for up to 4 groups of 3-5 students. If you have just one Kinazium, break it into four individual mats. Determine a limited set of walls, one ramp, and divide the pegs for 20 per group. NOTE: There are many ways to do this activity. For example, give 2 sets of students two mats each, or one group a complete set for a larger structure. A follow-on activity would be to give one complete set to all the kids, then have all the kids design together on one full Kinazium kit. They would attempt to build a taller and stronger structure with all the parts.

  2. The idea of this challenge is for each group to build a structure with a platform using a solid wall piece (ramp) that will be integrated as a horizontal platform and used to test the strength of the structure. Start with some rules, for example the platform must be 4 inches (the width of walls) off the ground. Try the next structure onto 8 inches.

  3. Once all the kids have built their structure, use blocks or some other type of consistent weights to test the structures. Give each group a weight and together have them place that weight on their structure. Repeat this adding weights until only one structure is still standing.


Structure: The ratio of rise over run, the height of the hill over the diagonal length of the hill(to demonstrate, use a 30/60 triangle to show a slow rise versus a steep rise depending on which side you use for the base of the triangle)

Footing: The base of the structure

Load: The amount of weight a structure can carry

Column: A vertical structure to help hold weight

Girder: A horizontal structure used as a support


Discuss the results with the students. Compare the structures and let the students consider why some structures could carry more load than others. Have the students try again from what they learned and reassess their results.