lesson plans and activities

Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Design and build a bridge and understand how they work. Different types of bridges can serve different purposes depending on how they are built.

 

Age: Grades Pre-K-6

Prep (Time): 10 minutes

Activity Time: 30 minutes

Background Information for Educator: 

  • Ask open ended questions to see what experience the student(s) have with bridges.
  • Have them spend time drawing bridges in their journals.
  • Show student a variety of bridges. Why would this be called an Arch? What does suspension mean? Do you know what a cable is? Have you ever heard of a truss? (what shapes do you see in the truss?)
  • While looking at pictures of bridges try to make observations to see what type they might be and what might they be used for. Is it for pedestrians, vehicles, animals?
  • What shapes do you see? How do you think they built this bridge. How heavy do you think something could be to safely cross this bridge?
  • Next, have them build a bridge using just a piece of paper and a few blocks. Have them try so support various objects on the bridge (markers, crayons, etc.)

Materials 

  • Cups
  • Craft sticks
  • Plastic animals
  • Blocks
  • Paper
  • Counters to pile on top

Talking Points:

  • Encourage kids to reflect back on the bridge pictures when they are creating their designs.
  • For older kids, ask them to recall what pushes and pulls the bridge (compression and tension)
  • Ask: Where else have you heard or pushing and pulling/compression and tension? Why are those things important to know about with bridges? What bridges have you seen before? What makes them unique?
  • *Keep an eye on small counters…usually kids at younger age are beyond the eating toys phase but you never know J

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Cut out a long piece of paper to serve the top of your bridge. This piece should be able to withstand the weight of your plastic animals.
  2. Connect your bridge buy using arches, trusses, tension, etc.
  3. Add weight to the top of your bridge. Your bridge should be able to withstand the weight.
  4. Experiment with different materials such as spaghetti, popsicle sticks, rubber bands

 

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