Newspapers2022 brought a new spin to the popular Paper Table Design Challenge! 

2022 had offer TWO different competitions to cover grades 3 through 12.  This challenge is completed in teams of no more than 3 students working together to create a table out of newspaper.  

This challenge is REMOTE. The teams must do all construction of the Paper Table within a 60-minute time frame.  Teachers can determine if they use 60 consecutive minutes or if that time is broken into multiple days, but the total build (including any manipulation) must be within 60 minutes.  Teams are welcomed and encouraged to practice on prototypes, but the final submission must be completely constructed within 60 minutes using no more than 1 roll of standard masking tape.  Tape is the only adhesive allowed; you may not use glue.

Certificates that may be awarded are for maximum weight held, teamwork, and efficiency (ratio of weight held divided by the mass of the table).

Constraints: (Subject to change for 2023) 

  • Time build within 60 minutes 
  • 1 roll of masking tape (standard 1 standard roll (60 yards) of masking tape (approximately 1”)
  • Unlimited volume of Newspaper (not advertising inserts)
  • At least 21cm to the top of the table
  • Tables must arrive at the Cedar Falls AEA building by 4 pm the day prior to the remote event. Use of van mail is allowed but please check your van dates to ensure arrival by the due date.  You are also welcome to deliver to the Cedar Falls office personally if you like, but the arrival date/time is the same.
  • Tables must be delivered completely enclosed in a cardboard box (please also consider how you might want to package the table to protect it in transport.  We will test the table in the condition it arrives in)
  • Your table must not be “just a block of paper.”  In order to be a “table”, there must be an opening on the underside that is at least 10cm x 10cm and extends all the way from the tabletop to the bottom of your constructed table.

Location (REMOTE) 
Central Rivers AEA – Cedar Falls
1521 Technology Parkway
Cedar Falls, IA 50613


Dates of Remote Judging: 

Grade 6-12: February 3, 2023

Grade 3-5: March 10, 2023


No limit on the number of teams from a district. Register grade 3-5 and grade 6-12 using the linked forms.

Paper Certificates for place 1-3 – maximum weight held
Paper Certificates for place 1-3 – efficiency
Each participant will receive a certificate in grades 3-5.


Judging Process

Judges will use this scoring sheet
At the start judges will review the submitted videos, “Tell us about your table and why you built it this way”. Tables will be weighed. This will be used to calculate the efficiency of the table- (ratio of weight held divided by the mass of the table). After the initial weight is taken, the plastic tub will be placed on the table by the students. If the table successfully holds the plastic tub, sand will be gradually added until the table structurally fails. At this point, the plastic tub with sand will be weighed.


How is the efficiency calculated?
The weight of the tub/sand is divided by the weight of the table. The higher the value of that number, the better the efficiency is. For example, a 1.2-pound table that holds 10 pounds of sand would be calculated at 10 divided by 1.2 = 8.33 but a 1.9-pound table that holds 10 pounds of sand would have an efficiency of 5.26. This means the “lighter” table has higher efficiency, even though it held the same amount of weight.

What if more than one table holds the same amount of weight and there is a tie?
Efficiency rating will be used to break any ties.

Can we bring extra tape?
No. We will supply one full roll (60 yards) and that is the maximum amount of tape each group can use.

Can we bring a 4th student as an alternate?
No. If you have 4 students, consider creating 2 teams of 2 students each.

My 5th and 6th grades are in a middle school – can they participate?
Your 5th grade is eligible, but the 6th grade is not. The science team now has events for all grade levels and we ask that K-2 students only attend the Discover and Wonder experience, grades 3-5 attend the Paper Table Challenge, grades 6-8th attend the Middle School Paper Roller Coaster, and 9th-12th attend the High School Paper Roller Coaster event.