Dowels and Rubber Bands I

Kids build structures with 3-foot dowels and rubber bands. There are many ways to build and to make things stand up, but making things stable is not a trivial task. You can make things that are very big – even big enough for several children to get inside


activity video:

Dowels and Rubber Bands I


Engineering and Invention

age range



  • Wooden dowels – 3/8 inch diameter, 36 inches long (25–30 dowels per working group of kids or 150 for a class of 20)

  • 1 pound of rubber bands (size 64) per class

safety issues

Once children see that they can build with the materials, there isn’t generally a problem with either “sword-fighting” or with shooting rubber bands. If that starts to happen, a simple “those are just for building” is almost always enough to redirect them away from misusing the materials. Encourage caution while deconstructing. When children are working on opposite sides of a structure, yanking dowels free from the rubber bands can cause the whole structure to jerk and hit someone on the other side.


design challenge, design challenge learning, ask, imagine, plan, create, test, improve, structure, stability, triangles, scale, geometry, shapes, collaboration, group work, engineering, making, building, large-scale, structures, wide open spaces, scale drawings


New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)