Sixth graders in Kerry Beckmann’s Technology class at South Orangetown Middle School have been making model bridges! Over the last couple of weeks, students have been working in groups to design and build bridges that will hold at least 30 pounds using glue and a total of 30 feet of wood.
Before they began to design their bridges, they learned about the history behind bridges including famous architects and the various styles of bridges. “I love this project because it’s all hands-on learning and students get to be creative as well,” said Beckmann.
Students have to develop the design of their bridge and calculate the measurements of the top, sides and roadbed before beginning construction. “When they first start the project, students may be a little more cautious as they’re building each section. After a few days of working on them, they get more comfortable with the tools and can build one section of the bridge in less than two classes,” noted Beckmann.
In one group, they are trying a few different strategies to ensure their bridge will be able to hold as much weight as possible. “We have assigned ourselves roles so we can stay organized. This way, each member of the group is responsible for one of the steps including cutting the wood, making the angles, gluing each piece together and placing the pins to hold everything together as it dries,” explained Addy. “We started one model and we realized that we need to use less wood in our design and add a lot more glue to keep the bridge sturdy.”
Once the bridges are complete, they will be tested to see how much weight they can hold and the group with the strongest bridge will receive a certificate. Students in other technology classes will also have the chance to analyze the bridges to see why some hold more weight than others based on the design and structural integrity.