Bridge building for fourth graders is a popular activity in science classes, designed to get students to use their engineering and architectural skills to design and build weight bearing bridges using 150 popsicle sticks, glue, and clamps. Students may add up to 30 additional sticks in exchange for docked points off their final project.
The bridges need two or more trusses. The deck does not have to be full on the bottom. Before actually building the bridges, students drew out their blueprint and followed the design in building.
At Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School, students in Mark Hall and Tyna Richter’s fourth grade classes were enthusiastic about the bridge building project. they wanted to meet the challenge of breaking the record for weight bearing from previous classes. The criteria for points being awarded included creative design, symmetry, and strength, as well as how students stayed on task.
The bridges were tested by hanging weights with chains and a bar placed through the bridge. Most of them came crashing down. However, this year, the winning bridge held 280 pounds, defeating the previous record of 215 pounds. The team used a five square design, adding smaller triangles into each square, and used “a lot of glue”.