Pool Noodle Stacking Challenge: Discovery at Home

What you need:

  • Pool noodle discs with hole down the center.
  • Dowel rod.
  • Cardboard box.
  • Timer.


  1. Create the stand for the game.
  2. Poke a hole in the bottom of the box.
  3. Thread the dowel rod through the hole so the cardboard box acts as a stand for the dowel rod. This is where you will slide the pool noodle discs for the challenge.
  4. Cut out several pool noodle discs that you can thread onto the dowel rod.
  5. Decide on how long you will have to stack the discs and set the timer. (Try to start with 15 seconds).
  6. Discuss any additional rules you want to add.
  7. Start the timer and begin stacking! How many can you stack?
  8. Try it again!

Ways to Expand the Activity:

  • Change it up. Identify a certain amount of discs and then time yourself to see how long it takes to stack all of the discs.
  • Add a constraint. Identify a pattern (colors, sizes, etc.) in which the discs must be stacked in order for the tower to be correct.

What Kids Learn:

  • Basic engineering skills. Engineers solve problems with constraints. They learn to solve problems by using the engineering design process: asking questions, coming up with solutions, building, testing and improving.
  • Spatial or visual thinking. Being able to imagine the positions of objects and how they interact is an important skill for learning math.
  • Fine motor skills. Kids practice using the small muscles in their hands later used for writing.
  • Experimentation! When kids experiment, they're learning how to learn. Failure is an important part of experimenting, so let kids try things that won’t work. It’s how they figure things out!
  • Hand eye coordination. Young children can use activities like this to help improve communication between their minds and bodies.