The Great Fuzz Frenzy: Tennis Ball Tower Challenge

I found this idea on the blog Playtivities.  This architecture/engineering activity involves having students use Popsicle sticks and straws to build the tallest tower that can support a tennis ball.

The Story: The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Cummel

“Deep, deep down in their underground town, the prairie dogs live in harmony–until a mysterious, fluorescent, very fuzzy thing (otherwise known as a tennis ball) rolls down their hole. When the prairie dogs discover that they can pluck and pull the fuzz into fabulous fashions, their fear quickly turns to curiosity, then delight, then pure greed.

The frenzy that erupts threatens to tear apart the prairie-dog town forever. But when mean ol’ Big Bark is kidnapped after taking all the fuzz for himself, the prairie dogs come to the rescue and remember the true meaning of community.” – Amazon Summary


The Activity: In the story, the prairie dogs use the fuzz from the tennis ball to make silly decorations after they decide to no longer be afraid.  For this activity, I tell the students to pretend that the prairie dogs kept being afraid and wanted to build a tower to get the tennis ball out of their home.  Their challenge is to build the tallest tower they can to hold the tennis ball and get it safely out of their home.

Directions:  You can also download a PDF version here.

Step 1: Make Your Tower

  • Use only tape, 6 craft sticks and 15 straws.
  • You do not have to use all the supplies, but you have to use some of each.

Step 2: Rules

  • Use a normal speaking voice.
  • Your tower must stand on its own.  You may not help it stand or lean it up against anything.
  • The tennis ball must balance on the tower without falling for at least 10 seconds.

Step 3: Test It!

  • Construct your tower.
  • Balance the tennis ball onto your tower.  
  • Record your name and the height of your tower on the Tennis Ball Tower Log Sheet.


Some Observations: Coming soon!