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Cantilever Structure

(This problem is adapted from Make Learning Fun! by Dr. C. Samuel Micklus.)

  1. JUDGE READS TO TEAMS:

    1. You will have 10 minutes to complete this problem.
    2. You are to build a structure of toothpicks and clay that will sit on a table behind a boundary line. The structure will cantilever, or stick out, as far as possible beyond the boundary line without touching the table surface.
    3. You may work anywhere you wish. You may also talk.
    4. You may break the toothpicks into smaller pieces if you wish.
    5. If your structure touches the table surface, you must break it off until it is cantilevered.
    6. The structure will be measured after the 10 minute construction period. The distance cantilevered will determine your score.
    7. You will be given 50 toothpicks and a piece of clay. The clay will be used to make the joints for your structure.
    8. The team must rest the structure on the table behind the boundary line. You may not press down so that the clay adheres to the table to support the cantilever.
    9. Scoring will be as follows: You will score one point for each 1/4" the structure extends beyond the boundary line without touching the surface. The end of the cantilever must be above the yardstick when the judge takes the final measurement.

  2. FOR JUDGES ONLY:

    1. Give each team 50 toothpicks and an equal amount of clay. OM recommends Plast-I-Clay by Amoco, or Crayola's Claytime Clay. (The latter is more expensive.) These are available at Toys "R" Us and other stores. If Plast-I-Clay is used, give each team a 1" x 1" x 1" piece or the equivalent.
    2. You need a table on which a boundary line is taped across the top and a yardstick.
    3. Teams may use their unused clay as a counterweight.
    4. Be sure to end at 10 minutes.