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Build a Tower or a Bridge

Build a Tower or a Bridge

TEKS Objective

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.

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Essential Understanding

The student knows that matter has physical properties and those properties determine how it is described, classified, changed, and used.

Science Background

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.

Structural Developments in Tall Buildings
Mir M. Ali and Kuong Sun Moon/The University of Sydney,

Signature Lesson

Marshmallow Tower Challenge: TED Talks (website) - Challenge student groups to build the tallest tower possible using spaghetti sticks, string, tape and marshmallows.

Marshmallow Tower Challenge
TED Talks,

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.

Discovery Education,

Supporting Lessons

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.

Exploring Parts and Wholes
Science NetLinks,

Elaboration Lessons and Extensions

The Puff Mobile: PBS Zoom (website) - Students build a wind-driven car from simple materials.

The Puff Mobile
PBS Kids,

Assessment Ideas

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.

Literature Connections

Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test. Jonmann, C. (ISBN-13: 978-1885593306)

Building World Landmarks. Greene, Meg (ISBN-13: 978-1567113150)

Related Science TEKS

(2.1A) Science Safety
The student is expected to identify and demonstrate safe practices as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations, including wearing safety goggles, washing hands, and using materials appropriately.

(2.1B) Importance of Safe Practices
The student is expected to describe the importance of safe practices.

(2.1C) Recycling/disposal of Science Materials
The student is expected to identify and demonstrate how to use, conserve, and dispose of natural resources and materials such as conserving water and reuse or recycling of paper, plastic, and metal.

(2.2A) Ask Questions
The student is expected to ask questions about organisms, objects, and events during observations and investigations.

(2.2B) Plan and Conduct Descriptive Investigation
The student is expected to plan and conduct descriptive investigations such as how organisms grow.

(2.2C) Collect Data
The student is expected to collect data from observations using simple equipment such as hand lenses, primary balances, thermometers, and non-standard measurement tools.

(2.2D) Record and Organize Data & Observations
The student is expected to record and organize data using pictures, numbers, and words.

(2.2E) Communicate and Justify Explanations
The student is expected to communicate observations and justify explanations using student-generated data from simple descriptive investigations.

(2.2F) Comparing Results of Investigations
The student is expected to compare results of investigations with what students and scientists know about the world.

(2.3B) Make Predictions
The student is expected to make predictions based on observable patterns.

Related Math TEKS

2.7A    The student is expected to describe attributes (the number of vertices, faces, edges, sides) of two- and three-dimensional geometric figures such as circles, polygons, spheres, cones, cylinders, prisms, and pyramids, etc.

2.7B     The student is expected to use attributes to describe how 2 two-dimensional figures or 2 three-dimensional geometric figures are alike or different.

2.12D  The student is expected to use tools such as real objects, manipulatives, and technology to solve problems.

2.13A  The student is expected to explain and record observations using objects, words, pictures, numbers, and technology.

Additional Resources

Venn Diagram Shape Sorter: Interactivate (website) - Students work independently in class or at home to sort shapes in this interactive Venn diagram.

Venn Diagram Shape Sorter

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.

Alien… Assembly Required
PBS Kids,

Simple Machines: BrainPop Jr. (video) - Learn about simple machines, which serve as the basis of everyday systems, such as toys and tools.

Simple Machines
BrainPop Jr,

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