A nearby bridge was washed away during heavy rains and the entire city is relying on your team to fix it! Your teacher will place two tables 30 centimeters apart. Your team must build a bridge over the span that can hold as much weight as possible.
Can your team win the contest to hold the most weight?
Students should gather in teams of 2-3.
- As a class, talk about ideas on what you can do to make the paper and plates as strong as possible. (5 minutes)
- Come up with a plan for how your team will build the bridge. (3 minutes)
- Build a bridge that will span the two tables and hold weight. (5 minutes)
- Once your bridge is complete, place rocks on it until it collapses! Apply 1 rock at a time. Your team gets 1 point for every rock the bridge can support.
Each team will receive the following materials to complete this challenge.
- 2 paper plates
- 3 sheets of paper
There will also be 25 rocks that are approximately the size of your fingernail to use as weights.
Here are some questions that you can ask the students after the exercise.
- What did you like about this activity?
- What are some ways you discovered to make your materials stronger?
- What was a good idea that you saw from another team?
- On your team, who was a good engineer? A good listener? A good leader?
- What would you differently if we did this activity again? (Teachers, consider doing this activity a second time. You will be surprised at how much improvement there will be.)
This exercise touches on these learning concepts:
- Competition – Teams compete to create a solution that earns the most points.
- Planning – Working together to come up with different ways to solve the problem.
- Engineering – Thinking of good structural designs that can hold weight.
- Manipulating Materials – Thinking of creative ways to use the materials. Cutting, ripping, folding, and changing the supplies is welcome.
This post is also available in: Kreyòl (Haitian Creole)