How to Make Paper Hold a Brick

Paper can be used to hold a brick.

This is the infamous paper support challenge. This challenge is used by teachers across the nation to demonstrate the strength of different shapes, discuss tension and displacement and show basic physics concepts. The challenge itself has some variations, but the most common is where the student is given two pieces of standard 8 1/2- by 11-inch sheets of letter paper, 6 inches of tape, and a paperclip. The objective is to use the items given to create a support for a brick, textbook, or other heavy object that holds the item at least 4 inches off the desk for an indefinite period of time.

Cut each sheet of paper in half lengthwise so that you have four 4 1/4-inch by 11-inch pieces of paper.

Roll the paper into a tube. Start with the short end and roll up to create 4 1/2-inch tubes. Roll the paper tube back and forth between your hands while applying slight pressure to add creases and help the paper stay in that form. Allow the tube to expand slightly, then add a wrap of tape around the tube to secure it.

Line the paper tubes up slightly staggered.

Carefully place the brick on top of the staggered line of tubes.

Based in CT, Bridgette Ashmore has been writing on a variety of topics since 1996. Her articles have been published in trade publications such as "LibraryScope" and "24/7" as well as topic-specific magazines like "ATV Rider" and "Side by Side." Ashmore has received numerous academic awards and possesses several college degrees—most recently a Master of Business Administration from the New York Institute of Technology.