20-40 minutes

bullet Set out materials.

bullet Pairs or individuals

(per pair or individual)
bullet 8 oz. plasticene (modeling clay)
bullet Yardstick or meterstick

Teacher Tips
bullet Plasticene is an oil-based clay. It leaves an oily residue on surfaces. Work on paper and/or be prepared to clean tables with soap or other grease remover.



Clay Bridges

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Students explore the effects of gravity and weight on horizontal structures. Given the plastic (stretchy) nature of the clay, the forces of tension are particularly evident.

What Is It

Ask the students to build a bridge which

  • spans a 6-inch gap between two tables, books, or desks

  • supports its own weight

  • is not anchored to the ground or tables by any other material.

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