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The dog got the wrong idea about lighthouses


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Build a Lighthouse

What's it all about?

We havenít time to build a real lighthouse, but given 1 hour and some simple materials, we can build a model one. However, this needs team work and vision, as the winning lighthouse will not only be tall, but it will have a working light and it will have an elegant design.

Ready for a challenge?

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Photo of lighthouse building

Photo of lighthouse building

Photo of lighthouse nearly finished

Photo of the judging


Student notes

Working as a group you have 1 hour to design and make a lighthouse using the materials provided. When the time is up, the lighthouse will be tested and assessed for design, cost, strength and planning.


You should spend about 10 minutes on this stage. During the planning time you are allowed to handle the materials, measure and draw. You are not allowed to fold, join or fix anything together at this stage. Each group has the same tools and equipment in their tray.


You should spend about 45 minutes building your lighthouse. It must:

  • Be free standing
  • Be a minimum of 90cm high
  • Have a working light at the top
  • Have an on/off switch
  • Be made so that the battery is no more than 4cm from the base of the lighthouse

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Teacher notes

There is ample sticky tape and paper, so three are only two main problems: making a tall enough tower that will not fall over; and making a circuit from the battery at the bottom to the bulb at the top. The best designs seem to resemble a tripod with legs of rolled paper (these work better if connected together near the base to stop them spreading). Most of our students quickly tumble to the idea of using the foil as one of the conductors in the circuit, and at least three designs of switches can be made from the equipment provided.

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Technician notes

For each group of students:

1 x roll of sticky tape
1 x strip of aluminium foil (just over 1m long)
12 x sheets of A4 paper
1 x piece of insulated electrical wire, approximately 1m long
1 x bulb
1 x battery
2 x drawing pins
1 x clothes peg
1 x 1m ruler
1 x pencil
1 x small screwdriver
assorted elastic bands 

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