How Strong is Paper?

How Strong is Paper?

We have an engineer in our family... she's always playing with pulleys and levers and constructing things. This time we were playing with compression and tension. Let's see what we can learn...

5 - 9
Est. Time:
<30 mins

How we did it:

Materials List

  1. paper
  2. books
  3. tape
  1. Paper and books! Just that. Let's see how strong that paper is!

  2. Maddie took two pieces of paper, and folded each sheet in half horizontally.

  3. She made little tents out of them, side by side, and I asked her if she thought the paper would hold up a book. She laughed. "No! It will just smash the paper down!"

  4. She was right.

  5. Next we took three pieces of paper, folded them into thirds (across, this time), and taped the ends together. How would these fare? How strong would they be? How much weight would they support?

  6. One.... two...... three..... four......

  7. Four! Woohoo!

  8. Now let's check round pillars... We took three pieces of paper, rolled them each around a can, taped the two ends, then slid the can out.

  9. How will these hold up? One...two...three...


  11. Still going at fourteen... How many will they hold? Why don't you go find out!