Building the Tallest Standing Tower

By Dalin Sun

When it comes to evaluating qualification of a person, most people tend to look into specific-job skills that the person possesses, which are also known as hard skills, for these skills are easily identified and evaluated. People usually gain those skills through general education, training workshops and other educational programs. However, they seem to ignore other crucial skills, soft skills. Normally, soft skills are not directly taught to people, but they acquire them from a wide variety of daily activities and during their schooling. Those skills include communication skills, creative thinking, time management, flexibility, problem solving and some other thinking-related skills. As soft skills play an absolutely essential role in a person’s life, all ACE teachers always work hard to tailor our teaching plans and activities for students in order to make them learn not only hard skills but also soft skills. ACE teachers do this through various classroom activities such as team work, debate, group presentation and other impromptu tasks which require students’ spontaneous responses to solving problems.

Students with their towers

ACE Open Day, a event which encourages non-ACE student and their parents to learn about our program and facilities, happened on 10 and 11 March this term. At Santhor Mok campus, one activity they had for attendees was, “ Build the Tallest Standing Tower.” It is an activity some ACE teachers use to not only bring fun to the classroom but also help improve students’ soft skills.


  • 20 straws
  • 4 chopsticks
  • 5 meter of paper tape
  • One balloon

In a group of 3 or 4 students and with the time limit of 10 minutes: Can their team build the tallest standing tower? At first students might think this competition is only for entertaining. Nevertheless, they are thinking about only one of the benefits from the game.

Let’s take a closer look along with the questions below:

  • Why does this competition require students to work in group?
  • Why are students provided with limited materials?
  • Why are students given only 10 minutes to complete the work?
  • What is one balloon used for?
  • Why does the tower need to be standing?

Below are the intended expectations from the game:

  • Regarding the first question, this activity teaches student about team work and team spirit. It requires students to practice their communication skills and work cooperatively and harmoniously in their group to bring about a desired result.
  • The other learning points during the game are resource management and plan-ahead skills. This competition teaches students to plan ahead and use resources provided wisely to have the best result.
  • This game also teaches students how to manage their time. As a matter of fact, students need to focus on completing the project within the time frame.
  • The other learning outcome is thinking quickly. This game enables students to come up with a quick solution to a problem.
  • Creative skills are also required during the competition. It boosts students’ mindset to think creatively.
  • The other aspect of the game is carefulness so in order to complete a given project under such time pressure and limited resources, students need to be careful in every step they take in order not to waste any resources.
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