Build a Tower or a Bridge
Students will combine materials that when put together can do things that they cannot do by themselves such as building a tower or a bridge and justify the selection of those materials based on their physical properties.
The student knows that matter has physical properties and those properties determine how it is described, classified, changed, and used.
Bridges: Brantacan (website) - Basic information about bridge construction and design that helps students understand how different parts keep the bridge from falling down.
Structural Developments in Tall Buildings: Mir M. Ali and Kuong Sun Moon/The University of Sydney (PDF) - Scholarly article offers a brief history of tall buildings and the structural requirements associated with them. It provides insight for teachers before they challenge their students (see Assessment section) to design and build their own towers.
Marshmallow Tower Challenge: TED Talks (website) - Challenge student groups to build the tallest tower possible using spaghetti sticks, string, tape and marshmallows.
Bridges: Discovery Education (website) - Students learn about building techniques to make the strongest and sturdiest bridge, with the goal of engineering a bridge able to hold a certain number of pennies.
- Supporting Lessons
- Assessment Ideas
- Literature Connections
- Additional Resources
Exploring Parts and Wholes: Science NetLinks (website) - Students explore systems, in the context of parts and wholes, but analyzing the parts of toys, classroom objects, and objects in the outdoor world.
Elaboration Lessons and Extensions
The Puff Mobile: PBS Zoom (website) - Students build a wind-driven car from simple materials.
Have students design their own towers or bridges on paper. They must provide an illustration of their structures, list the materials they would use to build it, and justify why they chose those materials.
Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test. Jonmann, C. (ISBN-13: 978-1885593306)
Building World Landmarks. Greene, Meg (ISBN-13: 978-1567113150)
Venn Diagram Shape Sorter: Interactivate (website) - Students work independently in class or at home to sort shapes in this interactive Venn diagram.
Alien… Assembly Required: PBS Kids (website) - Build an alien using a variety of parts, and discuss how each part helps the alien and what would happen if any parts were removed.
Simple Machines: BrainPop Jr. (video) - Learn about simple machines, which serve as the basis of everyday systems, such as toys and tools.