As a culminating task in our Pulleys and Gears (Grade 4) and Forces Acting on Structures (Grade 5) science units, students worked together in teams to build bridges out of popsicle sticks, straws, paper clips, toothpicks, string, elastics, paper and tape.
The class worked with Mrs. Black to define the requirements and Success Criteria for these projects. The goal for Grade 4 students was to build a 30 cm lift bridge and swing bridge, using at least two pulleys. The goal for Grade 5 was to build a 50 cm bridge that could hold at least two math textbooks. Students made two or three attempts, building on the success of their previous attempts to improve their designs. They kept detailed lab notes explaining their thought and building processes. Their lab reports became their explanatory writing pieces for literacy.
The following photo collage depicts the fun students had with this project. Grade 5 students far exceeded the expectation that their bridges support two textbooks. All of their bridges held 5 or more books. One bridge held 22 books before it listed to the side and dumped its load! Click on any photo to enlarge it.
With this project, students had a great time learning some principles of design, through trial and error, and by building upon the knowledge they gained in each trial. They also learned how to write up detailed explanations using a standard lab report format.
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