On the 5th of June, 2014,
we built with straws

This workshop came from a desire to play with triangle based 3D structures as opposed to rectangular based 3D structures. Marvin Minsky, a famous cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence, makes a clear distinction between these two principles for making rigid structures in the video segment Tinker Toys versus Lego (the first 2:30 minutes)

Play with 1 to 7 players.

Materials needed

For each player:

  • • 100 straight drinking straws, preferably of a unique color. We used IKEA SOLFINT straws.
  • • 25 meter thick fishing line
  • • 100 small tie wraps
  • • 2 small rubber bands
  • • 2 beads (or other small and lightweight objects that don’t fit through the straws and to which a tie wrap can be fastened)
  • • A pair of scissors


  • • Some clothespins
  • • Extra rubber bands


For each player:

  • • On one end of your fishing line attach a rubber band. With a tie wrap, connect the rubber band to a bead.

  • • From the open end of your fishing line, string all your straws of one color onto the fishing line.

  • • Just before you add the last straw, attach the second rubber band to the fishing line.

  • • Pull the rubber band through the last straw so that it’s just slightly tensed when exiting the last straw and connect the rubber band to the second bead. Leave the remaining fishing line attached for now.

  • You now have one long string of 100 straws that are gently held together by the fishing line and rubber bands. Where the straws meet, they can still make angles in all directions.

All players together:

Connect the beginning of each of your fishing lines together into one central point: Remove the beads and bind the ends together with one tie wrap.


Each player will play with the string of 100 straws it just prepared.

The players take turns.

The first player makes a triangle by using a tie wrap to bind the fishing line at the breakpoint between the third and fourth straw to the central point of all the long strings of straws. This triangle will become the start of a three dimensional structure build up of straws connected to each other by fishing lines and tie wraps.

Each following turn:

  • • Add the next one or two straws from your long string of straws to the main, central structure: Use a tie wrap to bind the fishing line at the breakpoint after the first or second free straw to a breakpoint on the main structure.

  • • Don’t force the main structure so that straws would bend, break or contort.
  • • Don’t attach two parallel straws right next to each other.
  • • It’s a gentleman’s agreement to add only one straw, if possible.
  • • Use scissors to cut off the remaining end of the tie wrap.


It ends when all straws from each long string of straws are connected to the central structure with tie wraps.