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Grade Range
2nd
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
30 minutes
Total Time
40 minutes
Area of Science
Civil Engineering
Key Concepts
Material properties, strength
Learning Objectives
  • Understand that different materials have different properties.
  • Interpret the results of an experiment to determine which material is best suited for a certain purpose.
paper-bridge-materials-thumbnail

Overview

Steel, concrete, wood—real bridges are built from many different materials. How do engineers decide which materials to use? In this activity, your students will expand on the previous paper bridges lesson plan by building and testing bridges made from different materials.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • 2-PS1-2. Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Planning and Carrying out Investigations. Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer a question.

Planning and Carrying out Investigations. Make observations (firsthand or from media) and/or measurements to collect data that can be used to make comparisons.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Construct an argument with evidence to support a claim.
PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter. Different properties are suited to different purposes.
Cause and Effect. Simple tests can be designed to gather evidence to support or refute student ideas about causes.

Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science, on Society and the Natural World. Every human-made product is designed by applying some knowledge of the natural world and is built using materials derived from the natural world.

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

This activity was inspired by Prof. Margot Vigeant of Bucknell University.
Special thanks to Cynthia Burke and Chris Bell for helpful discussions about this activity.

Materials


materials for paper bridge project

For each group of students:

  • Sheets of printer or construction paper (2)
  • Sheets of aluminum foil (2)
  • Sheets of wax paper (2)
  • Sheets of cardstock or manila folder (2)
  • Stack of books, or small boxes (2)
  • Pennies (about 30, more may be required for stronger designs)
  • Tape
  • Ruler

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Grade Range
2nd
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
30 minutes
Total Time
40 minutes
Area of Science
Civil Engineering
Key Concepts
Material properties, strength
Learning Objectives
  • Understand that different materials have different properties.
  • Interpret the results of an experiment to determine which material is best suited for a certain purpose.

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