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Homework Help: Giant Paper Tower Fun

  1. May 12, 2005 #1
    Giant Paper Tower :) Fun

    My physic's class has been kicking butt all year, so much in fact that we are done with the book early. My teacher is having a contest for us. Build the tallest paper tower we can... ONLY using paper, but as much paper as we want. Construction MUST take place from the ground. We cannot use a ladder. Our goal for height is to reach the gym ceiling.

    I have one idea but I would LOVE some input and other suggestions.
    My idea: A giant tripod using paper "nails" to hold the paper together. Towards the top the tripod comes together and holds a single tower extension. For the base, I would cut holes in multiple sheets of paper and slide the legs into them.

    Thanks :) be creative
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2005 #2


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    Eh, I suppose just stacking the papers on top of each other wouldn't be much fun ;)
    Your tripod legs would be rolled up paper cylinders with nails holding the ends together (at the seam)? Have you tested these cylinders? I would think the space between the nails would be the weakest part of the structure and prone to (I guess it's called) buckling. To give you more support along the entire seam you could: Label the ends and sides of paper A clockwise E1A, S1A, E2A, S2A. Label B similarly. Fold A and B in half so their ends meet. Insert E1B between E1A and E2A and push together so E1B touches the seam of A. You've now created an envelope along each side. Roll one side to the other and tuck into the envelope as far as you like- you can adjust the radius to fit your needs. I tested it a few times, and it seems very stable. You would want to choose a paper texture to maximize friction. You could also use a lighter paper since the thickness of the cylinder walls is quadrupled. I'm not sure if this adds more strength or weight- just an idea.
    Personally, I would then make interlocking caps for the cylinders, add a large enough base, and just stack straight up. But then I don't have much experience with this stuff. Good luck.
  4. May 13, 2005 #3


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    How about go a step further: make one that "looks" like an electric tower. You know, the ones that carry the power lines and are real high. So, how do you make an i-beam from a sheet of paper? First just perfect a method of constructing the i-beams as strong as possible and then two joining methods: joining two together end to end, and joining one end of one to a point along the other. After that, try and get a good diagram of a real power tower and try and duplicate it in paper! I'd put some lights on mine, you know, for airplanes.
  5. May 13, 2005 #4
    Maybe another alternative to paper nails. What about just taking a small square sheet of paper and cut a circle in it, and slide your paper tube through. It should be good enough to keep your paper tube rolled up. Although I don't know how strong it is compared to a paper nail.

    For your base, consider a circular, or hula-hoop like paper base. I remember a long time ago when I was asked to build the tallest tower out of plastic straws and a cone shaped building with a circular base was the strongest design I had.
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