Social Distance Learning: Build a Bridge

Project: Build a Bridge
Video Tutorial: build a bridge
Every day we pass bridges, whether it’s a foot bridge, a highway overpass, a span over water, or a viaduct over a valley. We pass on these structures without even thinking of the engineering genius that went into their design and construction, let alone the science behind their strength. Beam, truss, arch, suspension: each type of bridge varies in design, distance, and their ability to negotiate the forces of tension and compression. Depending on the purpose of the bridge, how much weight it will need to hold, and how far it will need to traverse, engineers can figure out which bridge is the right bridge.
A bridge uses tension and compression to balance itself and keep it standing. These two opposing forces work together to create equilibrium in a bridge’s structure. A bridge will buckle if compression, the force pushing down on it, becomes too much; it will snap if tension, the force pulling on it, is too great.
1. Using two cups as its foundation, construct a bridge of paper. The paper can be folded but it can’t be secured by tape, elastics, etc.
2. Now it’s time to test your building skills! Your challenge is to reach 30 points without the bridge collapsing. How do you reach points? With coins!
3. Give yourself 3 points for every quarter on your bridge (not over the cups, though).
Give yourself 2 points for every nickel on your bridge (not over the cups).
Give yourself 1 point for every penny on your bridge (not over the cups).
Construct another bridge and test your designs with objects around your home…How many Legos can your bridge hold? How many matchbox cars?
Sponsored by National Grid.

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