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Gumdrop Challenge

Engineering is the use of science and math to design or make things to solve a problem.

Engineers are everywhere! They build and create machines, structures, and other items like bridges, robots, rockets, light switches, and even tennis rackets! Try your hand at structural engineering with this sweet Gumdrop Challenge.

What you will need:

Gumdrop Challenge materials needed: gumdrops, toothpicks, heavy book

  • 10 Gumdrops
  • 20 Toothpicks
  • 1 Large hardcover book
  • Optional: paper plate as a working surface


  1. Using 10 gumdrops and 20 toothpicks, design a structure that can hold the weight of a large book.
  2. Celebrate failure—it’s part of the engineering process! Learn from each attempt and try again.

Gumdrop Challenge FAIL



  • For younger engineers, try these adaptations:
    • increase the number of gumdrops and toothpicks
    • Use a lighter book
  • For older engineers, consider these additional challenges:
    • Adding a time limit
    • Requiring it to be a certain height off the table
    • Creating multiple designs that work
    • Encourage them to use as little supplies as possible


  • Triangles are strong
  • Large bases hold more weight

Be a structural engineer and build a structure out of gumdrops and toothpicks in the Gumdrop Challenge with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Share your structural engineering successes (and failures) with us by using #TCMatHome on social media!