One of the rites of passage to middle school in our school is the class bridge building project. We have started discussing bridges, watching a documentary on the history of bridges and understanding bridge principles. Students will be using design process thinking in order to build a model of their bridge. We started with a question, thinking about how much sand a student built bridge could hold. Delving into research is the next step. We will be spending a significant amount of time researching bridges and engineer concepts behind bridge building in order to understand what our models will need. Tomorrow we have an engineer coming to discuss how he designs bridges. We will also tweet out to our global audience, asking questions to real live experts.
Students will start with building a straw tower that needs to hold a softball in order to show their understanding of bridge concepts. We will also work with paper as a tool to learn bridge concepts. Vocabulary such as tension and compression will be explored. We will learn about mechanical issues such as buckling and snapping. Students will study different kinds of bridges and trusses. This background knowledge will be used to design a bridge which will be tested before we leave in June.
This is such an amazing way to wrap up our voyage into design process thinking!