Students will understand the following:
Students will need research materials on bridge engineering, including a computer with Internet access. Each group will need the following materials:
Rather than requiring students to do their own research on bridge engineering, provide students with a few basic plans to choose from in constructing their bridges.
You can evaluate groups on their projects using the following three-point rubric:
Many bridges are icons for the cities or regions in which they are located. Almost everyone associates the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, with San Francisco, or the Brooklyn Bridge with New York City. Have your students prepare posters or multimedia presentations on famous bridges from around the country and world. Students should include in their presentations descriptions of the designs and features of the bridges, including pictures or diagrams and brief descriptions of the areas in which the bridges are located. They should also include brief histories of how and why the bridges were built and the current uses and states of the bridges, including any repair plans. You might also ask them to include any famous cultural references to bridges, like quotes from poems or songs ("London Bridge is falling down," for example). An excellent starting point for finding information is Netscape's Bridge Search.
Constructing with Bridges in Mind
Some engineering principles used in bridge building are also used in the design and construction of other structures. Ask your students to research the three primary types of bridges and investigate how these engineering principles are used in the design and construction of other structures. Then have them build models of structures, incorporating one or more of these engineering principles in their designs. In addition to building models, students should write explanations of the engineering principles they discovered and the ways in which they incorporated those principles into their projects. When their models and explanations are complete, have the students present their work to the class.
Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America
Henry Petroski. Knopf, 1996.
This book contains captivating stories about the men who designed and built the bridges that span America. See how the personalities of these engineers have played as much of a role as their technical know-how in getting bridges built. The book discusses well-known American bridges and includes a photograph and technical drawings of each one.
Bridges: A History of the World's Most Famous and Important Spans
Judith Dupre. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1997.
This magnificent, one-of-a-kind book about bridges bears witness to the creativity and intelligence of engineers. You'll find photographs and location maps for each bridge featured.
West Point Bridge Designer
West Point, home of the oldest engineering college in the Country, offers a free download of great Bridge Design software that will proivde hours of fun and intuitive learning for your students.
Bridges: Bridge Project Menu
Step by Step hand drawing procedures for designing model wooden bridges which could be adapted to a computer assisted drawing "CAD" program such as West Point's free "Bridge Designing Software."
Truss Bridge Laboratory
From the menu at this University of Florida engineering website, click on "Education Activities" and from a list of engineering projects, find the "Truss Bridge Laboratory."
The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Photographs, text and a short MPEG movie explain how the phenomenon of resonance caused the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. This disaster is one of the biggest design blunders of all times, and no was hurt.
Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.
Context: Chemists and engineers are creating strong yet lightweight composite materials that are now being used in everything from tennis rackets to airplanes.
Context: The magnified sways and twisting of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge were caused by the resonance of 40-mile-per-hour winds and the natural oscillations of the bridge.
Context: One of the diagonal steel stays that supported the bridge broke, but the structure remained standing.
Context: The heavy weight of concrete and steel causes a great deal of tension on the cables that support a bridge.
Context: In Europe, there are still viaducts over deep valleys that were built by the Roman Empire.
This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: physical science
Understands motion and the principles that explain it.
Understands effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on an object's motion (e.g., if more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude; unbalanced forces such as friction will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object's motion).
Grade level: 6-8, 9-12
Subject area: science
Understands the scientific enterprise.
Knows that people of all backgrounds and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations engage in fields of science and engineering; some of these people work in teams and others work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.
Don DeMember, science resource teacher, Kingsview Middle School, Germantown, Maryland.