Author:
Haley
Subject:
Technology and Engineering Education
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan
Level:
Middle School, High School
Tags:
  • Lesson Plan
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Text/HTML

    Education Standards

    Popsicle Bridge

    Popsicle Bridge

    Overview

    You are part of a team of engineers who have been given the challenge to design a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue. Bridges must be able to hold at least 20 pounds. The bridge must span at least 14 inches in length. But, it must be longer than 14 inches because when it has been constructed, it will be placed between two desks so it is at least one foot above the floor for a weight-bearing test. In addition to meeting the structural and weight bearing requirements, the bridge will be judged on its aesthetics as well, so be creative! And, you are encouraged to use the fewest number of popsicles possible to achieve your goal.

    Budget: $20,000

    Materials:

    Popsicle Sticks: $200 each

    Glue Sticks: $300 each

    String: $50/inch

    You will present your results to the class using Keynote and iMovie.

    Summary

     

    You are part of a team of engineers who have been given the challenge to design a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue. Bridges must be able to hold at least 20 pounds. The bridge must span at least 14 inches in length. But, it must be longer than 14 inches because when it has been constructed, it will be placed between two desks so it is at least one foot above the floor for a weight-bearing test. In addition to meeting the structural and weight bearing requirements, the bridge will be judged on its aesthetics as well, so be creative! And, you are encouraged to use the fewest number of popsicles possible to achieve your goal.

    Budget: $20,000

    Materials:

    Popsicle Sticks: $200 each

    Glue Sticks: $300 each

    String: $50/inch

    You will present your results to the class using Keynote and iMovie.

    Background for Teachers

    There are six main types of bridges: arch, beam, cable-stayed, cantilever, suspension, and truss. 

    • Arch:

    Arch bridges are arch-shaped and have abutments at each end. The earliest known arch bridges were built by the Greeks and include the Arkadiko Bridge. The weight of the bridge is thrusted into the abutments at either side. The largest arch bridge in the world, scheduled for completion in 2012, is planned for the Sixth Crossing at Dubai Creek in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

    • Beam:

    Beam bridges are horizontal beams supported at each end by piers. The earliest beam bridges were simple logs that sat across streams and similar simple structures. In modern times, beam bridges are large box steel girder bridges. Weight on top of the beam pushes straight down on the piers at either end of the bridge. 

    • Cable-stayed:

    Like suspension bridges, cable-stayed bridges are held up by cables. However, in a cable-stayed bridge, less cable is required and the towers holding the cables are proportionately shorter.. The longest cable-stayed bridge is the Tatara Bridge in the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. 

    • Cantilever: 

    Cantilever bridges are built using cantilevers — horizontal beams that are supported on only one end. Most cantilever bridges use two cantilever arms extending from opposite sides of the obstacle to be crossed, meeting at the center. The largest cantilever bridge is the 549 m (1800 ft.) Quebec Bridge in Quebec, Canada. 

    • Suspension:

    Suspension bridges are suspended from cables. The earliest suspension bridges were made of ropes or vines covered with pieces of bamboo. In modern bridges, the cables hang from towers that are attached to caissons or cofferdams which are embedded deep in the floor of a lake or river. The longest suspension bridge in the world is the 3911 m (12,831ft.) Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan. 

    • Truss: 

    Truss bridges are composed of connected elements. They have a solid deck and a lattice of pin-jointed girders for the sides. Early truss bridges were made of wood, but modern truss bridges are made of metals such as wrought iron and steel. The Quebec Bridge, mentioned above as a cantilever bridge, is also the world's longest truss bridge.

     

    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Step 1 Goals and Outcomes

    Learning Intentions:

    • Students will be able to research different bridge designs and construct one of their own.
    • Students will be able to work with and create a presentation using the required Mac applications

    Success Criteria:

    • Students will be able to work together as a team to meet the criteria outlined in the summary.
    • Students will be able to present their final project to the class.

    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 2 Planning Instruction

    Planning Stage:

    Meet as a team and discuss the problem you need to solve. Then develop and agree on a

    design for your bridge. You'll need to determine how many popsicle sticks you will use and the steps you will take in the manufacturing process. Think about what patterns might be the strongest….but you are also being judged on the aesthetics of your bridge! Draw your design in the box below, and be sure to indicate the number of sticks you anticipate using. Once you have a plan, meet with your teacher to purchase your supplies.

    Construction Phase: 

    Build your bridge. During construction you may decide you need additional supplies or that your design needs to change. If this is the case you may revise your design and purchase supplies from the teacher one more time. After that, you are stuck with your materials so make sure you have a solid plan.

    Testing Phase:

    Each team will test their bridge to see if it can withstand the required weight for at least one full minute. Be sure to watch the tests of the other teams and observe how their different designs worked. There will also be a test to determine which bridge held the most weight.

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    Teachers and adjust the requirements of the bridge parameters to meet the needs of diverse students. To make it more challenging, teachers can lower the budget or require more weight requirements. To scaffold, teachers can get rid of the budget completely and focus on more of an engineering persepctive rather than a functionality focus. 

    Step 3 - Instruction

    Step 3 Instruction

     

    You are part of a team of engineers who have been given the challenge to design a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue. Bridges must be able to hold at least 20 pounds. The bridge must span at least 14 inches in length. But, it must be longer than 14 inches because when it has been constructed, it will be placed between two desks so it is at least one foot above the floor for a weight-bearing test. In addition to meeting the structural and weight bearing requirements, the bridge will be judged on its aesthetics as well, so be creative! And, you are encouraged to use the fewest number of popsicles possible to achieve your goal.

    Budget: $20,000

    Materials:

    Popsicle Sticks: $200 each

    Glue Sticks: $300 each

    String: $50/inch

    You will present your results to the class using Keynote and iMovie. Your keynote slides need to include:

    - which bridge design you have chosen and key compenents of that bridge

    - what your final budget was and how many materials you used

    - uploaded images of your sketched design as well as your final project

    - how much weight your final structure could hold

    - uploaded video using iMovie of your final testing phase

    - reflection slide

    Step 4 - Assessments

    Step 4 Assessments

    Students will have 3 days to complete this project. A formative assessment will be due at the end of each class in the form of a feedback sheet. Students will need to answer the following questions:

    1. What challenges did you encounter today and how did you overcome them?

    2. What are your strategies for accomplishing you tasks tomorrow?

    3. What slides did you complete in Keynote today?

    When students turn in and present their final project, I will be able to assess understanding by grading the keynote and watching the iMovie. 

    Rubric

     Poor - 1 pointFair - 2 pointsGood - 3 pointsExcellent - 4 points
    AppearanceNot aesthetically pleasing. Work is sloppy throughout.
    Design is unattractive and/or plain.
    Not aesthetically pleasing. Work is sloppy throughout.
    Design is unattractive and/or plain.


    Overall, an attractive bridge (shapes, patterns, etc.)
    Tidy work most of the time. Visually appealing.
    Extremely aesthetic in design (shapes, patterns, etc.) All construction is clean and attractive. Visually appealing.
    StructureBridge with no real design.
    Does not contain all the components of their type of Truss Bridge
    Did not maximize use of materials.
    Bridge with limited creative design.
    Contains 50% of the components of their type of Truss Bridge
    Limited use of materials.
    Bridge designed with good creativity.
    Contains 75% of the components of their type of Truss Bridge
    Good use of materials.
    Bridge designed with excellent creativity.

    Contains 100% of the components of their type of Truss Bridge.
    Excellent use of materials.
    Teamwork
    Partners ..no team work.. one person ran the show! No respect shown. 
    Partners ..some team work.
    Some respect shown. 
    Partners worked together, but occasionally distracted from their project in some way. Each person was actively involved in the building process. All partners were treated with respect.
    BlueprintBridge design does not match the design of the blueprint and changes were not explained.Bridge design somewhat matches the design of the blueprint.
    If any changes were made during building, they were explained a little upon reflection.
    Bridge blueprint mostly matches the design of the finished product.
    If any changes were made during building, they were sufficiently explained upon reflection.
    Bridge blueprint matches the design of the finished product.
    If any changes were made during building, they were thoroughly explained upon reflection.
    MaterialsUsed more glue and popsicle sticks than allowed.  Used the appropriate amount of popsicle sticks allowed. Used appropriate amounts of hot glue.
    DurabilityTruss Bridge design could not hold even a small amount of weight.Truss Bridge design could hold a small amount of weight .Truss Bridge design held a lot of weight.Truss Bridge design was strong and sturdy. It held a great deal of weight.
    TechnologyKeynote did not follow the guidelines outlined. Little to no iMovie present.Keynote somewhat followed the guidelines outlined. Little to no iMovie present.Keynote followed the guidelines outlined. Little to no iMovie present.Keynote and iMovie correctly followed the guidelines outlined. 

     

    Example Project