Brief Description: Students use limited materials to build a bridge that can support the weight of as many books as possible

Grades: K-8

Time: 1 hour

Keywords: civil engineering, sturdy structures, forces,

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will be introduced to the idea of sturdy structures and civil engineering
  • Students will build bridges



  • Option 1: Popsicle Stick Bridges


      • 50 popsicle sticks per group
      • Tape
      • Hot glue


  • Option 2: Paper Bridges


    • 4 pieces of paper per group
    • Tape


  1. Introduce civil engineering. A civil engineer designs and maintains roads, bridges, dams, public works, and similar structures.
  2. Challenge students to build a bridge out of popsicle sticks OR paper that can cross a one foot span and support as many books as possible.
  3. Discuss the strongest shapes and methods to strengthen the materials they are given.
  4. Have students plan their design before they start to build
  5. Allow students to build and test for most of the class.
  6. At the end of the class period (~10-15 mins), test as a class to see how much weight each bridge can support
    1. Use books or other items around the classroom as weight
  7. What worked? What did not work? What did you do to make your material stronger?

Extensions and Modifications

  • Limit the amount of tape students are allowed to use
  • Make the bridge span a longer distance

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