I gave them the instructions, letting them know there is a very specific order for the pieces being bolted together to form the tower. I could tell from the way their eyes glazed over, that the instructions were not really going to be followed. I figured since it was Saturday, and not an "official" school day anyway, I wouldn't worry about it. Maybe male ingenuity would carry the day. Judging from the crooked tower that resulted, I'd guess not. Sometimes you really do need to follow the instructions.
My husband suggested scrapping the paper, and building an actual tower out of wood. That's a thought we may pursue, because it would give the added benefit of some woodworking lessons for the children. Since I was the one who had rolled all those paper sticks, however, I was not ready to scrap them that easily. I dismantled the tower and reassembled it with a slightly (and I do mean slightly) better success. This part of the project would be good for high school aged students - it is definitely too hard for the elementary level.
I'm not sure if our twisted tower will have the strength necessary to carry out all of the experiments we had hoped to run, but at this point - there's no turning back. Now all that's left is to build the rotor and the gear box. Just 40 more sheets to roll!
It's great to be a homeschooler (especially when you can get Mom to do all the prep work for you!)