Design a Bridge

By Vanessa Haerle

Subject: Tech/Eng, Math    
Grade Level: 7
Standards:  MA STE, Math & ELA (Common Core)

You are designing a bridge as an overpass over highway 146 (near Tony’s Pizza) and must submit a bid to the town for the project. Create a model and explain to the select board your design idea, the components of the bridge you chose; the cost of the materials, as well as how it will handle the live load and other forces that will act upon it.

Students will learn about four common bridge designs as a jigsaw (students will research one type of bridge design and share their findings with others). Each group will choose a type of bridge to design and each student will make a scale drawing of their model. The group will use a given scale factor to calculate the length and height of the bridge, and road surface area of the actual bridge, and then build it with given materials. They will test the strength of the bridge, measure its mass and calculate its efficiency (strength: weight ratio), and redesign (following the EDP), and give a final presentation to the town select board members.

STE, Math & ELA Standards

7.MS-ETS3-4(MA). Show how the components of a structural system work together to serve a structural function. Provide examples of physical structures and relate their design to their intended use.

7.G.A.1: Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, such as computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing, and reproduce a scale drawing on a different scale.

Grade 7 Speaking & Listening Standards. Presenting knowledge and ideas: 

  1. Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate vocabulary, eye contact, volume and pronunciation.
  2. Include visuals displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.