November 7, 2016: Bridge Building

Tilden’s fifth-graders have just completed an engineering project by breaking it. The class constructed balsawood bridges over the last few weeks. Each student was given a limited number of 1/8” balsa sticks and glue, with the challenge of building a sturdy, loadbearing structure within the dimensional requirements of the International Balsa Bridge Building Contest rules. Students began their exploration by building different styles of bridges out of K’NEX. The students observed the different forces at work when bridges are under load, and altered their designs to compensate for each new direction of force they encountered. Using what they learned with the K’NEX bridges, they then designed a balsawood bridge. After all the bridges were complete, they set them over a span and added weight until they failed. They worked hard and were excited, if a little sad, to bring home their destroyed masterpieces.