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Cordova Observation Tower: Longest Continuous Fiberglass Staircase in the World

The Cordova Tower is the tallest observation tower in a public park in the Midwest. The observation deck measures 106 feet tall. With 170 steps to reach the top it also features the longest continuous fiberglass staircase in the world.

Cordova Park, Red Rock Lake, Marion County, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • How did the engineers build the staircase to the observation deck?
  • How did the engineers make the fiberglass staircase to be so sturdy?
  • Why did they choose to build the tower here?
  • Why did they choose to build the staircase with fiberglass instead of any other material?
  • Is the tower strong enough to survive the elements of Iowa? (high winds, rain, snow)

Classroom Suggestions

  • Lead students to understand a real life design challenge and how the engineers constructed the longest continuous fiberglass staircase in the world right here in Iowa!

Related Resources

Red Rock Area: Information regarding the Cordova Tower
Only in Your State: Photos and information about climbing to the top of the Cordova Tower

Iowa Core Alignment


Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success

Credit Info

Submitted by Miika Busick


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