Members of Intermediate's Industrialists Club are learning the aesthetics, math, and engineering of bridge building.
As part of their study of transportation development during the Industrial Revolution, students in Mr. Bicknell’s Intermediate Industrialists Club are studying the engineering of bridges with a focus on the development of mass produced steel.
Their activities are challenged based. The first project was to create a free-standing cantilever using just Keva planks. For those at home Jenga blocks filled in nicely. Next, they used the software Bridge Designer to create and test virtual bridges. Here the concepts of compression and tension are explored. Building a functioning bridge is the first step and then the process of reducing the cost leads students to a deeper understanding of strength ratios, structure, and materials.
It’s a flexible project that gets the students ready for algebra and spreadsheets but reinforces the reading of dollar amounts and decimals at the same time. They also learn about the aesthetics of beautiful design by looking at famous bridges from around the world. The project is a good example of a STEAM activity that still works in this hybrid moment.