If you are looking for a fantastic building experience and EASY PREP- I have you covered. This amazing upper elementary STEM Challenge is perfect for a quick activity!
How easy is this STEM Challenge to prepare for? You are going to love this- print some images, give out straws and tape, and get busy. You cannot beat that!
I call it Easy Bridges because of the easy prep. The bridge models are actually very challenging for our students.
What is the Challenge?
Students use very simple materials to build a model of a bridge. I learned a long time ago that an activity like this one would need some parameters.
What kind of bridge are we building? How long does it have to be? What does it need to hold?
These are all great questions.
A Closer Look
What kind of bridge are we building?
Teams will have images of 4 kinds of bridges. The team decides which kind they would like to build.
How long does it have to be?
The bridge span must be at least 8 inches. We push together 2 lab tables or 2 stools to attach the ends of the bridge.
What does it need to hold?
Teams can test their bridges by placing a cup of pennies in the center. This is optional as some bridges may not hold the weight.
The Beam Bridge
A Beam Bridge has support at each end. If these supports are far apart the bridge becomes too weak. Real-life beam bridges rarely span more than 250 feet.
In the photo, you can see a team placing the rails on one side of their beam bridge. The floor of the bridge is made of side-by-side straws.
We learned to use our tape frugally in this challenge. I added rubber bands to our materials to help with the use of tape.
The Arch Bridge
An Arch Bridge has supports at each end. The main roadway is formed in a curved shape. This style of bridge is one of the oldest types of bridges.
This bridge proved to be difficult to build using the materials we had. Making those straws curve was tricky.
In the photo, you can see a team attempting the arch by bending the ends of the straws. They alternated the flexible part of the straw at each end of the bridge to make use of it! #clever
The Truss Bridge
This Easy Bridge STEM model is a Truss Bridge. It has a span made of connected beams in triangular shapes. Truss means connected parts or frameworks.
This was a popular choice to build in my STEM classes. It also proved to be fun to create those triangles and connect all the parts of the bridge.
This style was easier to build because it has fewer parts connecting to the floor of the bridge.
The Suspension Bridge
A Suspension Bridge is one that has a roadway hanging from cables that are held in place from each end of the bridge.
There may be more support towers along the sides of the roadway also attached to the cables.
This was also a popular bridge in my 5th-grade classes. We added string to the materials for groups that chose this style.
We also learned how to use a hole puncher to make a hole in the straws! Look closely at the photo!
Let’s Get Creative with our Easy Bridge STEM models!
Don’t you love these! The beam bridge has a fisherman holding a fishing pole. The suspension bridge has a little car crossing it. We had fun with our Easy Bridge STEM project!
CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO SEE DETAILS ABOUT THIS STEM PROJECT!
This Easy STEM Bridge was a fabulous event for us! I love the ease of preparation and you will too. You will also enjoy the detailed teacher’s guide:)
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