Tooltip
These resources have been reviewed and selected by STEM Learning’s team of education specialists for factual accuracy and relevance to teaching STEM subjects in UK schools.

Toothpicks

Act 1

A video shows a jar of toothpicks being emptied. Three of the toothpicks are placed to make the perimeter of an equilateral triangle. Six toothpicks are then placed beneath this to form an equilateral triangle of side two toothpicks. The process is repeated, building successively larger equilateral triangles. How many levels can be made with the complete jar of toothpicks?

Act 2

A photograph is shown of the toothpick jar. It contains 250 toothpicks.

Act 3

A speeded up video reveals that it is possible to create 12 completed layers, with 9 triangles in an additional layer.

Show health and safety information

Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

Show downloads

Information on the creators and permitted use of this resource is covered by the Category Three Materials - Community Resources section in STEM Learning’s Terms and conditions