Students explore the interface between architecture and engineering. In the associated hands-on activity, students act as both architects and engineers by designing and building a small parking garage.
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Student teams design their own booms (bridges) and engage in a friendly competition with other teams to test their designs. Each team strives to design a boom that is light, can hold a certain amount of weight, and is affordable to build. Teams are also assessed on how close their design estimations are to the final weight and cost of their boom "construction." This activity teaches students how to simplify the math behind the risk and estimation process that takes place at every engineering firm prior to the bidding phase when an engineering firm calculates how much money it will take to build the project and then "bids" against other competitors.
In this math activity, students conduct a strength test using modeling clay, creating their own stress vs. strain graphs, which they compare to typical steel and concrete graphs. They learn the difference between brittle and ductile materials and how understanding the strength of materials, especially steel and concrete, is important for engineers who design bridges and structures.
Students will understand the structural importance of the arch shape in bridge design. Students will compare and contrast modern arch bridges to historical arch bridges. Students will design and sketch their own arch bridge design.
In this interactive activity from the Building Big Web site, use your knowledge of bridge design to match the right bridge to the right location in a fictitious city.
Students explore how tension and compression forces act on three different bridge types. Using sponges, cardboard and string, they create models of beam, arch and suspension bridges and apply forces to understand how they disperse or transfer these loads.
Through a five-lesson series that includes numerous hands-on activities, students are introduced to the importance and pervasiveness of bridges for connecting people to resources, places and other people, with references to many historical and current-day examples. In learning about bridge types arch, beam, truss and suspension students explore the effect of tensile and compressive forces. Students investigate the calculations that go into designing bridges; they learn about loads and cross-sectional areas by designing and testing the strength of model piers. Geology and soils are explored as they discover the importance of foundations, bearing pressure and settlement considerations in the creation of dependable bridges and structures. Students learn about brittle and ductile material properties. Students also learn about the many cost factors that comprise the economic considerations of bridge building. Bridges are unique challenges that take advantage of the creative nature of engineering.
In the world in which we live, individuals are faced with technological challenges that were perhaps never anticipated or envisioned. Forty years ago, no one could have anticipated the challenges and opportunities that cell phones bring, let alone text messaging. At times, we are faced with design challenges that require us to think “outside the box” and use creative design processes rather than relying on just one possible solution. Specifically, structures are designed with a particular purpose, environment, life span, and culture in mind. Engineers must weigh these factors to produce optimal designs.
Engineering and designers regularly keep a design journal. Documentation of design thinking strategies, through sketches, notes, and diagrams, is an important aspect of the creation of an engineering design journal.
Students are presented with a brief history of bridges as they learn about the three main bridge types: beam, arch and suspension. They are introduced to two natural forces tension and compression common to all bridges and structures. Throughout history, and today, bridges are important for connecting people to resources, places and other people. Students become more aware of the variety and value of bridges around us in our everyday lives.
Students identify different bridge designs and construction materials used in modern day engineering. They work in construction teams to create paper bridges and spaghetti bridges based on existing bridge designs. Students progressively realize the importance of the structural elements in each bridge. They also measure vertical displacements under the center of the spaghetti bridge span when a load is applied. Vertical deflection is measured using a LEGO MINDSTORMS(TM) NXT intelligent brick and ultrasonic sensor. As they work, students experience tension and compression forces acting on structural elements of the two bridge prototypes. In conclusion, students discuss the material properties of paper and spaghetti and compare bridge designs with performance outcomes.
Students are introduced to some basic civil engineering concepts in an exciting and interactive manner. Bridges and skyscrapers, the two most visible structures designed by civil engineers, are discussed in depth, including the design principles behind them. To help students visualize in three dimensions, one hands-on activity presents three-dimensional coordinate systems and gives students practice finding and describing points in space. After learning about skyscrapers, tower design principles and how materials absorb different types of forces, students compete to build their own newspaper towers to meet specific design criteria.The unit concludes with student groups using balsa wood and glue to design and build tower structures to withstand vertical and lateral forces.
Students consider the Earth's major types of landforms such as mountains, rivers, plains, hills, canyons, oceans and plateaus. Student teams build three-dimensional models of landscapes, depicting several of these landforms. Once the models are built, they act as civil and transportation engineers to design and build roads through the landscapes they have created. The worksheet is provided in English and Spanish.
Students learn about the many types of expenses associated with building a bridge. Working like engineers, they estimate the cost for materials for a bridge member of varying sizes. After making calculations, they graph their results to compare how costs change depending on the use of different materials (steel vs. concrete). They conclude by creating a proposal for a city bridge design based on their findings.
Students learn about the types of possible loads, how to calculate ultimate load combinations, and investigate the different sizes for the beams (girders) and columns (piers) of simple bridge design. Students learn the steps that engineers use to design bridges: understanding the problem, determining the potential bridge loads, calculating the highest possible load, and calculating the amount of material needed to resist the loads.
In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, cast members make a bridge from a single piece of paper. Will it be strong enough to hold a hundred pennies?
This unit provides the framework for conducting an “engineering design field day” that combines 6 hands-on engineering activities into a culminating school (or multi-school) competition. The activities are a mix of design and problem-solving projects inspired by real-world engineering challenges: kite making, sail cars, tall towers, strong towers and a ball and tools obstacle course. The assortment of events engage children who have varied interests and cover a range of disciplines such as aerospace, mechanical and civil engineering. An optional math test—for each of grades 1-6—is provided as an alternative activity to incorporate into the field day event. Of course, the 6 activities in this unit also are suitable to conduct as standalone activities that are unaffiliated with a big event.
- Material Type:
- Unit of Study
- Provider Set:
- Alexander Kon
- Alisa Lee
- Andrew Palermo
- Christopher Langel
- Destiny Garcia
- Duff Harold
- Eric Anderson
- Jean Vandergheynst
- Jeff Kessler
- Josh Claypool
- Kelley Hestmark
- Lauren Jabusch
- Nadia Richards
- Sara Pace
- Tiffany Tu
- Travis Smith
- Date Added:
Scotland's Forth Road Bridge may not be the most beautiful bridge over the Firth of Forth, but it is an incredible feat of engineering and is integral to the economy of the entire area. However, rust is threatening to destroy the cables that suspend the r
Students explore the effects of regional geology on bridge foundation, including the variety of soil conditions found beneath foundations. They learn about shallow and deep foundations, as well as the concepts of bearing pressure and settlement.
- Forestry and Agriculture
- Material Type:
- Lesson Plan
- Provider Set:
- Christopher Valenti
- Denali Lander
- Denise W. Carlson
- Joe Friedrichsen
- Jonathan S. Goode
- Malinda Schaefer Zarske
- Natalie Mach
- Date Added:
In this video segment adapted from NOVA, watch residents of the Peruvian Andes build a suspension bridge made entirely of grass. The ancient Inca were a textile society and thus skilled in working with natural fibers including alpaca and cotton. Still, it might surprise people today that their solution to crossing the canyons and gorges of their mountainous empire featured another fibrous material: grass. When you consider how they built a simple suspension bridge, you'll realize that not only was this a practical solution, it was also a safe one. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, watch residents of the Peruvian Andes as they build a traditional and functioning grass bridge the likes of which enabled the ancient Inca people to flourish for several hundred years. Grades 3-12.
In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, the cast builds a suspension bridge from a couple of chairs, some cardboard, and rope. ***Access to Teacher's Domain content now requires free login to PBS Learning Media.