Hays Elementary Students Build Then Bash Bridges

Hays Sage Students Building Bridges

Sixth grade SAGE students at Celia Hays and Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary are getting ready to test the strength of their toothpick bridges after months of prep work and construction. Last fall students used Google Earth to view and explore the use of triangles in bridges around the world. While learning about the strength of triangles and constructing models using materials such as straws and spaghetti, students were able to test their own theories of bridge design and bridge strength.

After the initial bridge building exploration, teams were set to task to design a bridge that would be both aesthetically pleasing and structurally strong. Each team created a blueprint for a ‘layer’ of their bridge. After constructing 6 to 10 layers with toothpicks and wood glue, teams stabilized their layers vertically. Toothpicks were then placed horizontally so the structure could stand on its own.

Now that bridge construction is completed, students will see whose design will withstand the ‘bridge bash’ test. To test bridge strength, students will use a special table with a whole in the center. A chain attached to a bucket is run though the center of the table and mounted to a 2×4 atop the bridge. Students will carefully begin adding weight to the bucket until their bridge collapses. Each bucket will be weighed and its weight recorded. The team whose bridge collapses under the most amount of weight is the ‘bridge bash’ winner!

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