In one of the books we read this week, we learned about the role of an engineer and an architect in creating bridges. All week, the kids have been using paper to make plans for their bridges before they build them. "Yeah! We are the architects and other people can be the engineers!" Grace explained to me.
Something our friends noticed during the video was the lights on top of the bridge. "What are those lights for?" Clayton asked the group. "I think they're for the cars, so they can see," David answered him. "Or I know!" Aiden shouted, "they're for airplanes so they don't crash into the cables!" Ever since this moment, most of our models and drawings of bridges have included small lights on top, just in case an airplane or a helicopter is flying by.
We also learned about the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, which is considered the world's longest beam bridge at 23 miles long. We watched a Google Earth video of a car driving across the bridge. The kids were surprised when they realized that the bridge is so long they couldn't see the other end of the bridge from its start! "It would take 200 hours to drive across it?" Lucas asked. I suggested perhaps more like a half hour. We all agreed that no matter what, it is the longest bridge any of us had ever seen! "You mean it's longer than even the Golden Gate Bridge?" Aiden clarified.
Our discussion of famous bridges around the world was also enriched by the examples of bridges that our friends have been finding around the South Bend area. Almost everyone has contributed a photo of a bridge they have found. We have been using them at meeting to compare and contrast different features of various bridges. The kids always want to find where the supports are and see if the bridge has any lights or decorative elements.
In Art Class this week, our friends worked with Mrs. Loyd to create a truss bridge and a beam bridge. They added cars and a railroad on top. Everyone contributed to some part of this project, so it is very special to us!
On Monday, Ethan told me he wanted to write a book. At first, he said it would be about Star Wars and I challenged him to write about something new instead. "Write about something you know a lot about. Something that you are an expert about!" I told him. "I know! I will write everything I know about bridges!" he said as he hurried to get his paper and markers. It took him three days, but our class was pretty impressed when he shared his finished product with us!