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STEM Challenge Gliding Bridge

Grade Levels
4th - 6th
Formats Included
  • Zip
19 +editable
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Here’s an amazing STEM challenge based on a real life application! It’s a bridge challenge we call Gliding Bridges! Students learn about this unique kind of bridge and then build a model. They must demonstrate how their model safely carries two passengers across a gap. Be ready for cheering when the models work!

This challenge is available in money-saving bundles!

What is the challenge?

This challenge is one we loved as we learned some background and then experimented with our designs! Students will follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process for this challenge. The package contains step-by-step procedures for the teacher that are clearly marked with the Design Process steps. The accompanying lab sheets for students are also marked. A new feature has been added in which each student will spend time sketching and planning their own individual idea for the design of either the bridge string system or the passenger carrier and then write reasons his or her design is the best. This is followed by a discussion with other team members in which each student presents the idea and reasons. Each team then decides what the team design will be. The plan gives every student a voice in the final design.

Students will build the passenger carrier a bridge system that includes a moving string system and end supports. This will determine the best ride for each team’s carrier. Finally, students will have the opportunity to try a re-design!

What is your prep?

You will need supplies in addition to this package. This includes: String, 3 ounce cups, cardstock, ping pong balls, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, paper clips, metal washers, tape, dowel sticks, scissors, hole punchers, calculators, large cups (20-30 ounce) or smallbuckets, sand, gravel, and clay (modeling clay or modeling dough.

The package specifically includes:

  • Cover
  • Teacher background
  • Materials and preparation page
  • 6 pages of teacher directions
  • 1 page of information about Gliding Bridges
  • 2 pages of helpful hints
  • Constraints list
  • Price list for supplies (students use this)
  • Cost listing sheet (students use this as part of a budget feature)
  • 3 pages of photographs
  • 2-page lab sheet
  • Scoring rubric
  • Terms of Use page
  • All forms are provided in an editable format.
  • Sample student answer sheets are not included, but samples from student work are included in the teacher direction pages. The page count listed includes everything.

This was an exciting challenge. It created a need for collaboration within each group and after each group demonstrated students were able to re-design. The re-designs added to the challenge and also created helping and suggestions from one team to another. This presented some terrific learning opportunities.

This challenge works perfectly with two more Real-Life Challenges:

Or you can save money with all three Real-Life Challenges in a bundle:


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Total Pages
19 +editable
Answer Key
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