NC Science Olympiad
2017 Towers
Division: B - Middle School
C- High School
NC Standard Course of Study Alignment Grade 6, 7, and 8: Goals 1 and 2; High School Physics
7.P.1, 7.P.2, Phy.1.1, Phy.1.2, Phy.1.3, PSc.1.1, PSc.1.2
Official Event Rules: See National Rules manual
Event Scoresheet: 2017 Towers Score Sheet
National Event Page: Towers

Event Description:This is a building event. Teams will design and build ahead of time a tower constructed from wood and glue capable of bearing a load. The official rules clearly define the minimum/maximum dimensions that the tower must have. At the competition teams will place their tower on the testing platform, and load sand into a bucket suspended and supported by the tower. The tower will be loaded until either the tower breaks or 15 kg is held, whichever occurs first.

Materials: Teams MUST bring safety spectacles with side shields and the tower.
Event Leaders will provide all measuring and testing apparatus

Scoring: High score wins. Scoring for this event is based on efficiency. There is an added base bonus this year. The following formula will be used:

(Load supported + load score bonus)/Mass of Tower

Towers that fail to meet one or more of the requirements will be ranked in a 2nd tier beneath those that do meet requirements. Towers that cannot be tested at all will be ranked in a 4th tier below those that can be tested. Ties will be broken first by whichever tower is lightest, then by whichever tower is tallest.

Common Mistakes:

  • the goal is not to build the strongest tower, it is to build the most effiecient tower. Most winning towers will break before hitting 15kg
  • students will also have to estimate what their load supported will be this year. This number wil be used only in tie breaker situations.


Event Resources:
2016 Coaches Institute Presentation (2017 rules)
2011 Coaches Institute Presentation (2012 rules)
2007 State Tournament Tower Results
2007 Coaches Institute Presentation
2006 NC Coaches Institute Presentation
Tower_Beam Graphics

Picture and Video:

Video: Be careful when constructing your tower that it is level. If the base or any part of the tower is leaning or crooked, it will lean even more as weight is applied and potentially tip over before it breaks, as this one does.
A tower supports 15 kg before breaking. This or a very similar apparatus is the sand loading device (breaker) used at every NC regional and state tournament. A lever on the back releases sand at a rate of the competitor's choosing, which flows down a chute into the 5 gallon bucket. The bucket handle has been replaced with a rope, so the bucket will self- center and all the weight is always in line with the chain.
The process of placing your tower on the platform, threading the chain through, hanging the bucket, and how to load the sand. This is the PVC "breaker" used throughout NC.
Instructional video for how to glue balsa for your tower and what kind of glue to use
How to attach the sides of your tower base at the proper angle.
Simply placing your tower diagonally across the platform opening reduces the length of the sides needed, thus reducing the tower weight and increasing your structural efficiency.


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