This is a Hands-On Problem.

You will have 6 minutes to work and complete your solution.


Your teams’ materials are:  6 straws, 25 toothpicks and 1 sticky label in a baggie.  You have scissors to use as a tool, but may not use the scissors or baggie as part of your solution.

You may ask questions or talk to each other at any time.  Time, however, will continue. 


Your Problem Is:  Using only the materials given, you must build a structure that will stand on either of the pointed (finished) ends of the toothpicks. Only the straws and toothpicks may touch the posterboard.  Each finished end of a toothpick touching a circle will receive the points printed in that circle.  Some circles have negative points, and a toothpick end touching those circles will receive the negative points.  Your structure MUST BEGIN IN, and must touch, the START AREA. 

Straws which touch point circles will not earn score.  If any part of a straw touches a circle, you will not receive ANY points for that circle, even if a toothpick end touches it also.

Toothpicks lying down on the scoring board will not receive points.  Toothpicks must also be touching the overall structure as well as a circle in order to be scored.


You will be scored at the end of 6 minutes or when you decide to stop.  When you are scored, you may not be touching any of your structure.

Scoring will be based on the total number of points received and total number of points subtracted.  Each toothpick connected to the structure that has a finished end touching a circle will receive the value of that circle.  More than one toothpick may touch a scoring circle.  (Repeat “Your Problem Is…” and then give the team a copy of the problem.)


Time Begins Now.  (Give team 6 minutes.)



Before the team arrives, prepare posterboard with the scoring areas marked as below.

Give each team exactly 6 minutes.  When time ends, they may no longer touch the structure.

Tape the scoring board to the floor or a table top.

Materials may be cut or altered.  Toothpicks may be broken to obtain a higher score, but DO NOT tell them that unless THEY ASK!  Only the “finished ends” may be counted, though.  (If a toothpick is broken in thirds, the center portion does not count for score.)

Any toothpick or piece of toothpick connected to the structure can be scored as long as it is resting one end in a circle when the team finishes.

Circles may be traced around coins.  Mark inside the circles the point values.  Smallest circles should be worth 20 points, medium circles worth 10 points, and largest circles worth 5 points.     Mark the circles in red as negative 15 (-15) points each.  


© LLove 2003



                                                                            START AREA
                                                                                   (6" x 6")