bullet Two or three 40-60 minute building sessions
bullet 20-60 minutes of introductory and follow-up discussion at each session (more at the last session)

bullet Set out materials.
bullet Find a roomy space to store unfinished bridges.


bullet Three to four per group

(per group)
bullet A lot of newspaper (2-4 Sunday papers)
bullet 6-foot length of tape (or string or yarn or rubber bands)
bullet Several identical heavy objects (such as textbooks) for weights
bullet Optional: Bathroom or other scale.


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In this activity, students will begin to develop an experiential understanding of how structures are designed to bear loads, or downward pulls. This activity provides an opportunity to ask students to talk about bridges that they know. There are obvious examples such as the Golden Gate or Brooklyn bridges, but the smaller, unnoticed examples may be equally as interesting. Look for roads crossing little creeks, pedestrian overpasses, or even second-story floors in buildings. A discussion of such examples invites students to bring their own experiences and understandings of bridges to the activity, thereby connecting their school experiences with the outside world.

What It is

Ask the students to build a structure with newspapers and tape which

  • spans 18 inches between two tables or chairs (have older students span 24 inches)

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