July 15th, 2024

Hutterite students build record-breaking tower out of Popsicle sticks

By Lethbridge Herald on June 13, 2024.

Delon Shurtz

Building a 100-foot tower out of 40,000 Popsicle sticks is no small feat. Fortunately students from the Miami Hutterite Colony southeast of Stirling didn’t also have to eat that many Popsicles.

The handful of young students, under the direction of their teacher Levi Romeril, completed the tower in May after working on it for an hour every day for two months. The tower could be a candidate for a Guinness world record, but only if Romeril can convince Guinness the tower is actually free-standing. The school’s young building crew managed to get the tower to stand on its own, but only briefly before something broke and it became too weak to stand.

“We could say, maybe it stood at one point for like 30 seconds,” Romeril says.

The wind is also a problem. Romeril says trying to schedule a day when Guinness can attend to witness the tower standing on its own when there isn’t any wind, is virtually impossible.

Romeril is confident Guinness will recognize a tower the students built last year that is considerably shorter, but will still be a world record.

It sprouted from an unrelated class project four or five years ago in which Romeril had his students each choose a tower from anywhere in the world, research it, then build three-foot-tall replicas out of Popsicle sticks.

“Then one of my students was like, ‘I wonder what the Guinness world record is for the tallest Popsicle structure?’ And I looked it up, and at the time it was 21 feet, and I was like…21 feet? We could totally beat that.”

That’s what Romeril told his students, but they eventually forgot about it until a couple of years later, when they decided to go for it.

“So last year we actually beat the world record.”

They built a 41-foot, one-inch tower, and they have a Guinness certificate to prove it. Unfortunately the record was short-lived. Six months later a Brazilian who makes Tik Tok content by breaking records, built an even taller tower.

“He annihilated us,” Romeril says, noting the tower was, at 78 feet, almost twice as tall as the tower the students built.

Instead of being depressed, however, the students decided to build another tower.

“Well, that just fuelled our fire, and we’re like, we are taking that back.”

Earlier this year they built an 88-foot, nine-inch tower. It was solid and free-standing – they have the pictures to prove it – but they still weren’t done.

“We actually went back and started adding more to it, because we had more to go. We ended up getting to a hundred feet, two inches.”

Romeril believes it qualifies as a world record because it stood on its own for 30 seconds, but he’s not sure Guiness will agree. And that’s OK, because the class still isn’t done with the tower.

“Our goal, the way we constructed it, was going to be 125 feet. The only reason we didn’t hit that mark is because the wind picked up.”

While it sounds like a fun project, Romeril points out it also fits within the school division’s math and science curriculum.

“We just did a science unit that talks about forces and constructing different buildings, so we were able to talk about internal force and external force that goes into construction.

There was certainly a method to their madness. The students started with a seven-foot by three-foot base, then they built 14, eight-foot sections, each one gradually tapering toward the top.

“Each section tapered in an inch and a half on both sides, and we just kept tapering and tapering until we got all the way to the top.”

So maybe now the students can say they’re finally finished. Apparently not.

“We are not done. We achieved what we wanted by getting our Guiness world record back, but we did not reach our goal, and our goal is a hundred and 25 feet. We were able to look at some weaknesses in our design, and some flaws, so we know how to make it bigger and stronger, and we want to come back and do it again. We want that hundred and 25 feet.”

Romeril has sent to Guinness pictures, videos and various documents with statements from witnesses who measured the 88-foot tower, but it takes about 12 weeks for Guinness to review all the evidence before deciding whether it’s a record.

“Because of already going through the process, I know we have sufficient evidence for the 88-foot, nine-inch (tower). Not sure if the evidence I have shows that the 100-foot, two-inch (tower) freely stood or not. Either way, we did beat the previous record of 78 feet, one-inch.”

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