Seventh Graders Begin Year in Science with Paper Tower Challenge

Working in groups of two or three, seventh graders took on their first science challenge, participating in the Paper Tower Challenge. Students were tasked with building the tallest free-standing structure possible using limited resources (25 cm of tapes, 2 sheets of newspaper, a ruler, and scissors). “This is a great way to start the year in science,” says teacher Sarah Freilich. “It helps students learn about the ways they can work positively and collaboratively with one another, so that they can create collaboration norms for our year together.” This challenge is also in line with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which provide the framework for the middle school science curriculum. Through these standards, students learn disciplinary core ideas (physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering), crosscutting concepts (which help students make connections across the disciplinary ideas), and science and engineering practices (investigating, designing, and building systems).
Adds Ms. Freilich, “The Paper Tower Challenge perfectly aligns with the science and engineering practices of NGSS. It’s also student-centered, as students are looking for design a solution to their task, which helps students build their critical thinking skills.”