Paper Bridge for Pennies - Scientific Method vs EDP

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jrut
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Paper Bridge for Pennies - Scientific Method vs EDP

Post by jrut »

Hello, my daughter is in 2nd grade. She wants to do a project involving paper bridges. Before we start I want to ensure we set her up for success. In the example, she would be coming up with a design, testing, and then creating a new bridge design to test. To me, that sounds like an EDP but from what I read it is better to do the scientific method. How could you create a procedure for this that would follow the scientific method?

We are allowed to do the Engineering design method if this really would follow that method better. I just want to make sure we aren't missing something.

https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science- ... es#reviews
bfinio
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Re: Paper Bridge for Pennies - Scientific Method vs EDP

Post by bfinio »

Hi,

First, a couple links that might help in case you haven't seen them yet. We have a page about comparing the scientific method and engineering design process:

https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science- ... fic-method

We also have an "activity" version of this project with a video:

https://www.sciencebuddies.org/stem-act ... est-bridge

The "activities" on our site are usually "just for fun" and don't formally follow the scientific method or EDP, but many times you can adapt them for a science project.

Anyway, for this project, you are correct. An engineering design process approach would be to establish criteria (e.g. "the bridge must hold at least 50 pennies"), come up with a design, build and test it, then iteratively design/test/improve until it can meet the criteria. A scientific method approach would be to build multiple bridges and change just one variable while keeping everything else constant, and measuring how many pennies each bridge can hold. For example, she could keep the bridge geometry constant but test different materials (construction paper, printer paper, wax paper, aluminum foil, etc), or vice versa - use the same material for everything but test different shapes.

Sometimes the line between the two methods may be blurred - for example, while doing an engineering design project to build the strongest possible bridge, it may help to do some scientific method testing of different materials to determine which one works the best.

Hope that helps, please write back if you have more questions!

Ben
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