Engineering design challenge: Paper shelf

Engineers and geoscientists work to protect the public, and that includes building structures and making sure that they are safe for us to use. Civil engineers design and inspect the structural drawings to see if they will be able to hold certain amounts of weight and stand up to extreme weather events. Engineers have “shake tables” that they can use to model what will happen to a building during an earthquake. Geoscientists play a role in making sure that the ground is safe to build on.

Your mission

Create a structure out of only paper and tape that can hold 3 cans of soup (hint: try rolling the paper into tubes) and make sure it can stand up to wind and unstable surfaces.


You should use objects you can find around the house to build your project (some examples are below).

We recommend that you test out your structure by seeing what happens when you put it in front of a fan, or a door moving back and forth quickly to create a breeze. You can place it on a table and shake the table to create your own earthquake simulator.

Example materials

You can use these or any other types of paper and tape you find around your house to work with

  • Newspaper
  • Scotch tape
  • Duct tape
  • Cardboard
  • Tissue paper
  • Construction paper
  • Washi tape

Share some pictures of your creation online using the #NEM2021 or #NEGM2021 hashtag!