Paper Tower Challenge Directions

World’s Tallest Structures

Here are the top three tallest structures in the world. What similarities and differences do you notice?

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

© Riyas Mohammed

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Structure Height: 2717 Feet

This is the largest structure in the world. It is a combination of hotels, restaurants, corporate suites, and observation decks. It is made of structural steel and concrete. 

Data collected from

Merdeka 118, Malaysia

© Nafisah Faliq

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Structure Height: 2,227 Feet

This is the second tallest structure in the world and is expected to be completed this year, 2023. This structure will have offices, housing properties, observation decks, shopping complex, and hotels. It is 95% completed and is made from steel, reinforced concrete, and concrete encased steel. 

Data collected from

Tokyo Skytree, Japan

© Spencer Chow

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Structure Height: 2080 Feet

This is the third tallest structure in the world and one of the world’s tallest free-standing towers.  his structure is earthquake resistant; there is an integrated mass damper to reduce any structural vibrations. This structure has shops, cafes, and is mainly used for its observation decks.

Data collected from

Paper Tower Challenge Instructions

Challenge: Build the tallest freestanding tower that is made only of paper. 


  • 20 sheets of paper
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 tape measure
  • 2 feet of masking tape

The scissors and tape measure may not be used in your solution.

Time: You will have 5 minutes to discuss your strategy and 6 minutes to build your tower. Discuss and try different ways you can use the paper to create your tower. 

The Engineering Design Process helps us figure out problems and solve them like engineers. Today you will use this process to create the tallest structure you can.

  • What is my problem? Design and build the tallest tower in under 10 minutes
  • What are my constraints? Can only use the materials provided, 20 sheets of paper and 2 feet of masking tape and the scissors and tape measure may not be used as part of your tower.

  • Brainstorm some solutions to your problem. 
  • Do some research with your team if needed.

  • Draw out your ideas on a piece of paper. Don’t forget to check the materials list below to include anything you might need. You have 5 minutes to create a plan. 
  • Materials List:
    • 20 sheets of paper
    • 2 feet of masking tape
    • 1 pair of scissors
    • 1 tape measure

  • Use your plan to create your project.
  • You will have 10 minutes to create the tallest structure. 

  • Think about what you would do to improve it (make it better) and share it with your group. 
  • Answer the questions below:
    • What was the hardest part of building the tower?
    • In what ways did your team work well together?
    • What other ways could you have improved your teamwork?