Project 2 - Bridge Building

  General Information

Lead Teacher(s): Harry O'Reilly
School: St. Paul's Intermediate School
Gander, NF
Grade Level: Grade 7
Number of Students: 28 students in one grade 7 class
approximately 125 students from 4-5 grade seven classes that can become involved
Project Start and Finish Dates: November, 1998
February, 1999
Project's URL:

  Project Overview

This project ties directly into a unit of Science in the grade 7 curriculum. Students are introduced to bridge building in the unit on Structure And Design in the course. As a project, the students are required to design and build a bridge of predetermined dimensions and materials. They will have the structure evaluated for appearance, utility, effectiveness and strength(if they desire).

Students work in groups of two or they can construct it on their own. Parent participation is allowed, and indeed, encouraged. They are limited to popsicle sticks, carpenter's glue and dental floss. The bridge must span 70 cm and allow for 15cm clearance on the platform. The students must submit a paper describing their technology model - procedure, design, problems, hypothesis, conclusions.

On one specific day, students bring their bridges for evaluation. Strength tests are conducted for the day. Strength factors are determined by Load divided by Bridge Weight. A deflection of 5cm from horizontal or a complete break determine its stress level. The students are completely involved with all aspects of the evaluation as well. They are the testers, the officials, and the recorders. Pictures will be taken with a digital camera of the testing and the whole project is put into a web page format and put up on the St. Paul's site for the students and their parents to see. Of course, the web page also makes it available to other schools who will be able to get the full project online for their classes.

  Curriculum Connections

The Structure and Design component of the grade seven course Science Directions 7concerns itself with bridge building, strength components of various materials, and the functionality of various designs. This project addresses these issues in a very real and concrete manner.

Students have to not only design the bridge, they must write up their results and be able to discuss them with the class. This, of course, adds a language arts component to the activity.

They will be fully involved with the stress tests, the picture taking and the web page design. These features will give the students a practical reason for technology applications directly related to this activity.

The learning outcomes will be varied:

  • Students will have to actually learn to design a workable prototype both on paper and in reality.
  • They will have an opportunity to collaborate with other students and/or parents in the design and construction stages.
  • They will be actively involved with the actual scientific process both in their construction and in the stress testing phase.
  • They will develop an appreciation of architecture and engineering from this project.
  • Students will be involved in exact measurements and learn the necessity of precise measurements in science.
  • They will interact with others throughout the whole project - throughout the design, production, evaluation and technology stages.

  Resource Connections

The STELLAR School Internet connection is crucial to this project's success to make this project available to other schools in the province. Also, students are able to evaluate other bridge building pages on the Internet. And, finally, the students will be learning how to communicate their learning experience to others through the medium of the Internet.


The learning outcomes referred to above will be used by teachers to determine the students' level of achievement in this project. They will also be given a grade as this is a part of their Science Unit on Structure & Design
Students will also be graded on their group decision-making in this project. The actual project is actually designed for physical stress testing which is a very concrete evaluation of the worthiness of the construction.
The students will be able to become involved in the actual evaluation by being the people involved with the testing, weighing and tabulation of statistics for the project. As other schools are provided with the project online, they will also be able to lend their evaluation to the project's suitability for a grade 7 Science class.

  Project Summary

Summaries will be added as they become available.

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