Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bridging the Gap

We've been building bridges the past couple of weeks... our in-class schedule has been wonky because of end of the year, exams, standardized testing, EOCs, etcetera.  I made a short unit out of this project.  To start with, we watched NOVA Super Bridge, available cheap on Amazon (already set to the bridge video page).  By cheap, I mean about 10 bucks, which I gladly paid out of pocket for the fun I knew this unit would bring.  The video talks through all stages of a major bridge design project, models, shows a class building and testing their own bridges, discusses the architecture and gives a brief overview of the most commonly found types of bridges.

From there, we went more in-depth with the pros and cons (we made a list) of the types of bridges, where you would put each, what makes them strong, etc. using NOVA: Build a Bridge website.

The kids then got to make their own "blueprints" (yes- I use this term VERY loosely) of a bridge of their own design.  It could be one of the four most common bridges or a combination.  I didn't even think about it, but the bridge I modeled for them was a combination...though a simple one.  Naturally, most of them wanted to show off and designed combination bridges.  From there, they could work alone or in small groups to begin building their bridge.  I tried to stick to 100 popsicle sticks (told them 75 and then gave them a few more later) and Elmer's Glue.  It was a blast, and we had so so so so SO much fun testing out the bridges with our matchbox cars and testing their strength.  You might be surprised what Elmer's Glue can do!!!

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