Building Bridges The beginning of an engineering investigation

On our one hundredth day of school, I put out 100 red solo cups and encouraged the kids to build a 100 cup structure. After our friends had mastered that challenge, Will and Lucas asked if they could use the cups to build a bridge for their train tracks. After a few failed attempts, I heard them discussing where they needed more "support for their bridge so that it wouldn't fall anymore."

Lucas and Will work on their bridge using Solo cups.

Ever since then, building bridges in our blocks center has been a favorite activity of many of our friends.

When I saw that the interest in this activity was continuing beyond just a couple days, I decided to add some nonfiction books about bridges to our block center and see how they might inspire our friends!

"This bridge is really cool because it's made out of nature," Aiden showed Will.
Adam and Will worked together to build a bridge over their railroad tracks.

As you can see, interest in this subject has blossomed into a study of bridges! This week at meeting we have been looking through the book "10 Most Amazing Bridges" and noticing characteristics of the different bridges.

Through our reading we have learned that there are 4 main types of bridges. We have been discussing their characteristics and making observations about them all week. (We are still working on pronouncing the word "suspension.")

These are the 4 types of bridges we have been discussing.

On Wednesday at meeting we watched a short video through SciKids, called "What Makes Bridges So Strong?" (Feel free to view it below to see what we've been learning!) The kids loved the short explanation of how engineers build bridges. They also really latched onto the title of "engineer" and started calling each other "Engineer ____" during their bridge building experiences.

Our friends loved the short video, "What Makes Bridges So Strong?"

As the week has gone on, the bridges we are building are becoming more elaborate. A group of friends built "a beam bridge with three tracks" during free choice earlier this week. At one point we had 8 friends working on this project together! I heard many conversations about where to build supports and how high the blocks should be. It was also interesting to hear the kids negotiate between everyone's ideas! Some friends wanted to make a bridge for cars and others wanted to put train tracks on it. They realized that they needed to agree on one idea, so they planned to have the railroad tracks be built on the bridge and the "highway" go underneath it.

While other friends set to work on the bridge, Molly volunteered to "make cars for the highway."

Naisha, Emilia, and David also tried to make a beam bridge. It kept falling down, so they decided it needed "way more support! And they added tons of blocks underneath to steady it."

Earlier this week, Lucas and Will decided they wanted to build a "challenge bridge." By this, they meant they wanted to challenge themselves to build a taller, more stable bridge than the one they had built the day before.

"Emilia is the engineer! Her job is to check if the bridge is safe for cars to go on it," Naisha explained to me.

"Look! You can build a beam bridge with Legos too!" David said as he showed us his work.

I wanted you to have some insight into the inspiration behind this study! Next week will continue to explore the types of bridges, study famous bridges around the country, and investigate how to build bridges!

Created By
Randilyn Bowling
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