Getting Across the River

By John McCarthy

Subject: Tech/Eng
Grade Level: 6-8
Standards:  MA STE & ELA (Common Core)

Interstate highway Route 91 spans 290 miles north/south along the Connecticut River. Bridges that  span over 91 and the CT river are limited to mostly vehicle use with occasional narrow walkways alongside traffic. These sidewalks are often littered with trash, feel unsafe and are visually unappealing. As such, pedestrian, bicycle and other recreational  travel across the river is difficult and limited. Your task is to design a prototype bridge that could increase and encourage safe recreational and non motorized travel over the river.

You will have access to 200 popsicle sticks, wood  glue, and cardboard to build a prototype bridge. The bridge must support a weight of 20 pounds and span at least 14 inches in length. This means there cannot be any supports touching the floor or base for at least 14 inches (imagine large boats passing underneath). In addition to meeting the structural and weight bearing requirements, the bridge will be judged on its aesthetics and efficiency of materials (try to use the fewest popsicle sticks possible). Your prototype will be presented to the class and be scored using a decision matrix judging strength, efficiency and aesthetics.

STE & 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.

6.MS-ETS1-5 and 1-6(MA). Communicate a design solution to an intended user, including design features and limitations of the solution. Create visual representations of solutions to a design problem. Accurately interpret and apply scale and proportion to visual representations.

7.MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing solutions to a given design problem using a decision matrix to determine how well each meets the criteria and constraints of the problem.

ELA Standard: 6.7 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

4. 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. 5. Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points. 6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.