Submitted by: Kevin Larkin

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for grades 4-8, students practice using the scientific method by studying Greek architecture and testing out which column shape is the strongest.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Observe Greek architecture and form a hypothesis about which column shape is the strongest.
  2. Formulate an experiment to test their hypothesis.
  3. Create and analyze the data for an experiment measuring the strength of different shapes of column, as measured by completing a worksheet on the scientific method, recording data from our experiment, and filling in a exit slip with their theory.


  • 4 pieces of 8.5" x 11" cardstock per group
  • tape for each group


As part of a unit on ancient Greece, my school always conducts an experiment with the children on the strength of different column shapes, as our magnet theme is architecture.

It's best for students to work in groups of four for this lesson.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show the class a picture of the Parthenon and of the US Supreme Court.
  2. Turn and talk: Elicit from students what they notice about the ancient Greek and modern American buildings (answers should include frieze sculptures, triangular pediments, marble, and columns.)
  3. Explain that we will focus on the columns, a technology the Greeks copied from Egyptians, and we copy from the Greeks. Tell students we will conduct an experiment on what shape column is the strongest.
  4. Play the Scientific Method Movie as a review for students.
  5. Have student pairs draw a circle, triangle and square, then turn and talk: which column will be the strongest, and why? Encourage students to form a hypothesis.
  6. Pass out the Column Quest and the Scientific Method handout for students to complete during their investigation.
  7. Ask each group to create a set of 4 paper columns that are round, rectangular OR triangular using the 8.5" x 11" cardstock and tape. Once the columns are created, load each set of 4 columns with textbooks, one book at a time. Eventually, when the columns will collapse, and ask students to record how many textbooks the columns held.
  8. Have each group share their results with the class.
  9. Use the second page of the the handout as an exit slip and have students fill in the blanks.