Students at Bullock Creek High School in Midland, Michigan found an unusual way to raise money for their robotics team – they used 27,434 rolls of toilet paper to build the world’s largest toilet paper pyramid.
Every year, the BlitzCreek 3770 Robotics team takes part in the FIRST Robotics Competition – a national robotics contest, where students are challenged to create a robot that can perform certain tasks.
The 28 students on the BlitzCreek team – about half female – design robots, build and wire them, and write the programs that run them.
But building robots isn’t cheap, and teams are expected to help raise money for the program.
Maxton Herst, 18, first had the idea of building a toilet paper pyramid to raise money in ninth grade, when he joined the robotics team. By accident, he came across a video about a toilet paper pyramid. Maxton realized that it was possible to build a record-setting pyramid, and then sell the toilet paper to raise money.
The problem was convincing other members of the team. Year after year, he suggested the idea, but it never took off. But this year, Maxton is the captain of the robotics team. The rest of the team agreed to try his idea.
BlitzCreek has been planning the pyramid since last May. One challenge was calculating how many rolls of paper were needed. The answer turned out to be 27,434.*
In late December, team members gave up part of their winter holiday to build the pyramid. The pyramid was so big that they had to build it from the inside before backing out and filling in the areas where they had been standing.
It took about 16 hours, with many people working, to complete the pyramid. The final height of the pyramid was 16 feet 3 5/8 inches (4.95 meters) tall. The team believes their pyramid is about two feet (61 centimeters) taller than the current Guinness World Record.
The pyramid opened for viewing on January 4. Sadly, because the pyramid was in the school’s front hall, it could only stay up three days.
With all the excitement caused by the pyramid, it turned out to be fairly easy to sell the toilet paper. Families and other supporters bought nearly half of the rolls. A large company bought the rest.
The club is still calculating the costs for the project, but they believe the team made about $10,000 from the event. The money will help pay for the activities of the team, as well as similar programs at Bullock Creek’s elementary and middle schools.
This isn’t the team’s first fun project. The team built a robot they call “T-shirt Bot”, which looks like a tank, and can shoot T-shirts into the air. The team has taken T-shirt Bot to hockey games, and to elementary schools, to get younger students excited about robotics.
Maxton hopes that the success of his “crazy idea” will inspire others. “If you’ve got an idea, and you know that that idea is good, push it,” he says. “Don’t stop.”
* For people who want to do the math: The bottom layer of the pyramid has 43 rolls on a side. After that, each layer has one less roll per side than the layer below it. There are 43 layers in all, and the top layer has just one roll!
Did You Know…?
There are FIRST robotics contests at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. You can find out more at the FIRST site.
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