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Balsa Tower Competition

The goal of this contest is to design the lightest, strongest tower out of balsa wood crossbeams. These towers will be loaded with weight until they fail (e.g. break). The tower that has the highest load to weight ratio (load before failing divided by the weight of the tower) wins!


  1. Maximum team size: 1 (one person per team)
  2. Only 1/4 inch balsa wood cross beams may be used, no balsa sheets will be allowed (balsa cross beams can be found at hobby stores, home improvement stores, and many other places)
  3. Cross beam members must be no larger than 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch, but may be any length
  4. Any type of glue may be used to affix the members together
  5. Glue can only be present at joints, no treatment of members or excess glue will be accepted
  6. Members cannot be glued together so that the cross-sectional size of a member exceeds 1/4in x 1/4in (no doubling-up to make thicker beams)
  7. The tower must be able to fit in a box that is 4in wide, 4in deep, and 12in tall
  8. The tower must be at least 9 inches tall, but no taller than 12 inches
  9. The tower must be hollow in the center, no bracing is allowed inside the tower
  10. The tower must have at least a 2in x 2in square hole in the top for testing
Any questions about these rules can be sent to

Judging Criteria:

  • The tower will be weighed, and then loaded until the point of failure
  • The score will be determined by dividing the total load held by the weight of the tower
  • The tower with the highest load/weight ratio wins

Rules adopted from the University of Alabama Balsa Tower competition