Skyscrapers: Engineering Up!

Skyscrapers are one of the most glorified products of civil engineering and contain an interesting history of progress and development. Students learn about the history of the world's tallest free standing structures and the basic design principles behind their success. Then, through two associated activities, students are given tower design challenges, as if they were civil engineers. They build their own newspaper skyscrapers with limited materials and time, trying to achieve a maximum height and the ability to withstand a "hurricane wind" force. Then they build their own balsa towers in a competition for height and strength. Discussion focuses on materials, forces that skyscrapers must be able to withstand, basic tower design considerations (foundations), as well as examples unique and inspiring design solutions.