Science Olympiad Tower

By on December 4, 2005 -- Modified on August 17, 2017

This tower was 24 inches tall, 6 inches wide at the base, tapering to a 1 & 1/2 inch square at the middle. This tower weighed 7.0 grams, and held 11kg for 2nd place at the 2005 GA Science Olympiad State Finals.

I am in the middle of building a tower for my Science Olympiad competition this Saturday. In fact, I am truly in the middle. I am in the process of joining the two halves of my tower together, the bottom and top parts.I was asked
recently about the best way to go about this. I responded that I wasn’t quite sure. I have heard of people making jigs, but I can’t think of how to make a jig for this.

However, I think I have a way that at least works. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that you must build a tower on a level spot. Here is my setup:

On my desk (which isn’t level), I have a sheet of graph paper. On it I have 5 dots. 4 of the dots mark the outside points of the base of my tower. The 5th dot is the dead center of those other dots.

Because my desk isn’t level, I put a strip of wood under two legs of my tower to make it level. Only one dimension of my desk wasn’t level, so I fixed that by adding a piece of wood under two legs. And yes, I did use a small level to make sure that it was now perfect.

Now I know that the bottom the base of my tower is level. Now I need to make sure that the top of the base is level. So I placed my loading block (one I bought from Pitsco) on top of the base to see if it was already level. It wasn’t.
So I began sanding. A little bit here, and a little bit there. I didn’t just so this randomly, but using the level I tried to see what leg was making the tower un-level and sand that one. I ended up sanding a little too much, so I had to sand another leg. Finally, I have the base of my tower perfectly level. Now the trick is the actual connection of the top part, and making sure the top is level.

One of these days I will take pictures of this setup to connect the two parts to a Science Olympiad tower. If you know of a better way, please enlighten the rest of us.

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25 thoughts on “Science Olympiad Tower”

  1. Are 1/4 inch legs good?

    By First Timer -- October 4, 2017
  2. Dear Garrett, I am following a design very much like yours for my tower. I am currently building the lower half and I have put together the top square piece (2″x2″) and the larger bottom square piece (6″x6″). I will have to do this by connecting both pieces with 4 legs so that the lower half of the tower is 8″ long. I am having a very tough time doing this. Do you have any helpful tips? How did you assemble the lower half of your tower?

    By Charan Vemuri -- February 19, 2017
    • The assembly is definitely hard. I am pretty sure that I made two sides of the tower on a flat surface, and then somehow clamped them together with temporary bracing while I glued on the actual bracing. I didn’t have a jig.

      By Garrett Boon -- February 20, 2017
  3. how big is the top part were you put the chain thingy to hold the bucket

    By Deanna -- January 19, 2017
    • 5cm x 5cm.

      By Garrett Boon -- January 19, 2017
  4. Hello!
    I understand this is a very old thread but is very applicable to this year’s event, Towers, in Science Olympiad and thus I have a few questions:
    How tall were your bottom part and top parts?
    How did you build your top and bottom ie. your top built like a plank bridge or something? and your bottom I don’t even know how you were able to build it like that.
    Would you think that dropping everything but the main legs (thick non-bracing) to low density would bring efficiency up?
    And finally, is there a jig maker out there anywhere? I’ve been trying to find one as that makes everything more replicable and faster.
    Thank you so much!

    By Eric -- December 20, 2016
  5. this is my first year doing towers, is 1cm by 1cm legs overkill?

    By Andrew Tift -- March 16, 2012
    • Yes.

      By Garrett Boon -- March 18, 2012
  6. were the legs made out of bass?
    or balsa?

    By Dude Shibby -- April 6, 2011
    • Wow, it must be a long time ago that I built this tower, because I cannot remember the answer to this question either. I know that I used bass for the legs in some towers, but I was also experimenting with balsa legs during this time. I don’t know for sure.

      By Garrett Boon -- April 7, 2011
  7. How/Where did your tower break?

    By James -- January 18, 2011
    • James, I honestly do not remember.

      By Garrett Boon -- January 18, 2011
      • Do you remember how high was the base of the tower was? =P

        By James -- January 18, 2011
  8. Hey Garret:

    This is a really nice design; I noticed that the base/main part (I’m not sure what to call it) is thicker than the members/trusses/bracing.

    What different sizes wood did you use? Thanks!

    By Sam -- December 31, 2010
    • Sam, I think the 4 main legs were 3/32″ square sticks. The X bracing I cut by hand, and it was 1/32″ x 1/16″. The horizontal bracing was 1/16″ x 1/16″ low density Balsa.

      By Garrett Boon -- January 1, 2011
      • Did you bend the wood or is it two separate parts (bottom and top)?

        By Sam -- January 2, 2011
        • The tower is in two separate parts.

          By Garrett Boon -- January 3, 2011
          • Is it better to build in two parts or just curve?

            By Sam -- January 23, 2011
          • Two parts is better.

            By Garrett Boon -- April 7, 2011
  9. Garrett —
    did you use balsa or bass wood for this tower? i am a first timer with towers so any help would be great!

    By lily -- October 13, 2010
    • Lily, I only used Balsa wood for this particular tower.

      By Garrett Boon -- October 14, 2010
  10. This might help me a lot for my science fair project thanks

    By adam -- November 13, 2008
  11. GB i would not mind writing it if you just sent me some tips i could neaten it up in my writing classes at school as extra credit and i could find some info for you it would be fun.

    By First Timer -- October 29, 2008
  12. FT, thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely look into writing a tower ebook. It probably won’t be any time soon, however. I am staying pretty busy in school right now. It might be a Christmas break project.

    By Garrett Boon -- October 28, 2008
  13. Hey BG
    i am thinking about making one of these just for the fun of it i had a blast building my bridge and i was wondering if you could make a ‘5 steps to building a bridge tower version’

    By First Timer -- October 28, 2008

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