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Building Bridges

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Born on June 13, 1806: John Augustus Roebling, an engineer especially known for suspension-style bridges and the design of the Brooklyn Bridge. From straws to balsa wood to egg shells, students can get hands-on this summer exploring and testing bridge construction. In an episode of the "Magic School Bus," Ms. Frizzle's class experimented with gum drops and toothpicks. What will you use? (Image Source: Wikipedia)


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A classic Magic School Bus episode involves making a bridge out of materials found in the bathroom in order to cross the bathtub, in which an alligator is lurking. To complicate matters, Ms. Frizzle's class has been shrunk! At two inches tall, the span of the bathtub seems about the size of the Grand Canyon!


Making Connections

Connected building blocks stacked vertically make a tower. But the same connected stack stretched side to side between two elevated objects creates a bridge.... and brings up bridge-related problems, like sagging! Shorten the distance of the bridge, and you may minimize the sagging. But if you need to span a bigger area, what can you do?

Tinkering with concepts of bridge design and principles of structural engineering is something students can explore alone or in teams, and summer is a great time to gather household supplies, and see what works. Bridge building offers a creative activity, a brain teaser, and an engineering project all wrapped up in one. Make it a challenge! Which kind of bridge is strongest? How can you test bridge strength? How can various kinds of bridges be reinforced to increase their strength? Which type of bridge holds up best in an earthquake? How wide can the bridge be before and remain strong?


In Action

For hands-on fun with bridges and an introduction to structural design, check out the following Science Buddies science fair project ideas:

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This great guide and collection of family-friendly activities lets kids explore the history of robotics and put robotics engineering concepts to use with hands-on projects at home. Introduce Students to Robotics Engineering Robotics: DISCOVER THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF THE...

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School and family science weekly spotlight:

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Take a sneak peak at an exciting pair of hands-on science and engineering activities that Science Buddies has planned for USASEF visitors and get inspired to make your own robots this week in celebration of National Robotics Week—or experiment with your own catapult project!

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Robotics engineers are experimenting with soft robots and robots modeled after biological organisms. With a squishy project at Science Buddies, students can get in on the action and test their own soft, air-powered, robot. A recent story in MIT News...

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School and family science weekly spotlight: What conditions cause yeasts to be most active during fermentation?



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!


Help With Your Science Project

The following popular posts are designed to help students at critical stages of the science project process.


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