Baby Bridge Project in Parts

November 6, 2010 at 2:25 PM Leave a comment

Decided NOT to do the three weeks of sticking toothpicks into a bridge then break it. Instead, I’m trying a series of engineering design challenges with my challenging 8th graders. Fighting fire with fire 🙂 It’s really fun!

The first challenge:

Make a pillar that can withstand 2 textbooks of compression force. Lightness means less expensive to build. They had 1 straw, 1 piece of paper, 30cm sticky tape and 20 pins. (Watch out for these going out of class and sudden screams all over school. Nuff said.)

Good idea to weigh the pins out ahead of time, rather than count them. No pokey, pokey.

Many took a lot more than two texts. Kids got to stabilize the books and the pillar but NOT hold the weight of the books on their hands.

Sometimes A LOT more… yeah!Almost all groups made it past the benchmark. Those that didn’t got more materials to try again. None of this was graded, it’s entirely for the fun of doing it.

Awarded a pink paper for 7 or more, green for 4-6 text books and yellow for 2-3 texts. They stuck their pillar on after testing and weighing. Then I organized them by color. Finally, they took on the role of city councilors and decided which pillar design bid they would um, support.

Some like strong, some liked cheap or a combination. Very few went for Sophia’s triangle design, surprisingly. I loved it. And many went for their own or friend’s designs.

So, does that sort of thing happen in real life with grown-ups? Oh yeah, although theoretically, council members are supposed to recuse themselves if they have a vested interest. Interesting for kids to experience the process of bidding and approval of civic architecture. A seat-of-my-pants, last-minute idea that worked out, phew, onto tomorrow and the cantilever challenge!

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Entry filed under: Design Challenges, Physics Topics. Tags: .

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