In this engineering and design project, physics students will apply their knowledge learned throughout the year to create the best bridge they can. Students start by using online resources to research different types of bridges. After one to two days of research, students present their findings in a whole class discussion.
Next students start their background reading and answer pre-lab questions before they start to design their bridges in groups, using only popsicle sticks and craft glue.
After several days of building (my students needed about 3 or 4), it's time to put the bridges to the test. Standard lab weights weren't enough for my students creations and we even had to hang buckets of water to get the bridges to break. One student was even able to sit on his bridge! Needless to say, this was one of the most memorable days in physics class. My students love this project, and I love it too because students are engaged, and learning about real world applications for physics.
This is a wonderful project for the end of the year after students have completed their standardized tests. It keeps them excited to come to class and gives them a much earned break from practice problems and scantron bubbles, while still engaging them in higher order thinking skills. This lab also only uses popsicle sticks and craft glue as supplies, which keeps lab costs low! As a science teacher, I know how expensive labs can be, so I always try to keep my lab costs down for these activities. You'll need about 2000 popsicle sticks and 6 containers of craft glue for a class of 25 students.
Like all my labs, the packet also includes a rough draft template with space for a graph, introduction, methods, results summary and conclusion, all with sentence starters for differentiated learning.