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Bridge Building Bonanza: Which Design Wins?

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1 buddy review
by Teisha Rowland, PhD
Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Key Concepts
bridges, forces, loads, civil engineering

Introduction

Have you ever ridden in a car driving across a suspension bridge? Suspension bridges, with their tall towers, long spans and gracefully curving cables, are beautiful examples of the work of civil engineers. How do the cables and towers carry the load that is on the bridge, which includes you and the car you are in when you cross the bridge? Can a suspension bridge carry a greater load than a simple beam bridge? You can try to answer these questions in this science activity!

The middle part of a suspension bridge model.

Credits

Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,150 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Drinking straws (7)
  • Paper cup, at least 8-oz.
  • Masking tape or painter's tape
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Paper clips (4). At least two should be large ones.
  • Many coins, all of the same type. For example, you should have at least 325 pennies, or at least 150 quarters.
  • Chairs, tables, or desks that you can arrange to build a bridge between (2)
    Materials needed to build different bridge designs.
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Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Key Concepts
bridges, forces, loads, civil engineering