Build a Staircase STEM Challenge

Staircases – you see them everywhere. At homes, in offices, in schools, or in public places. Some are made up of concrete, some are made up of wood. We can also find glass staircases at some fancy restaurants. The material that is chosen to build a staircase depends upon many factors such as economy, functionality, etc.

Try it: Take a scale and measure the height of one stair. Now, what will happen if we increase the height of each stair by half a foot. Will it become easier to go on the next floor, or will it become difficult to climb?

Today you are a civil engineer, and your teacher gave a STEM challenge to build a staircase.


Table of Contents

How to do the Build a Staircase STEM Challenge

Challenge: Build a staircase with 3 steps that hold at least 10 times the weight of the staircase.

Materials: straw, paper, glue, ropes, popsicle sticks, rubber band, etc.

What to do: Make a staircase with 3 steps using the above materials. The minimum height of the whole staircase should be 9 inches.

Test your staircase

Now test out your constructed staircase by putting some books on it. Gradually increase the number of books until the staircase collapses. Note down the number of books it can hold before collapsing. Now weigh the total number of books that the staircase can hold.

Now, divide the weight of books by the weight of the staircase.

Ratio of the weight of books to the weight of the staircase

If it results in more than 10, your staircase is successful.

Otherwise, rebuild it with certain modifications and test it again.

Modifications that you made after testing the staircase:


Which material gave your staircase more strength?
Can you justify your selections of material?
Can you make similar materials that were used in your staircase and concrete staircase?

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