JDaniel loves to build so; recently took him aside and posed a building question to him. I asked him how we can get some farm animals across a busy road. His answer was that we needed to build a bridge.
I gathered together some toys and some build materials that we could use to build the bridge.
What was gathered?
- Small potato chip containers
- Paper clips
- Hole punch
- Strips of cardboard
- Train track
- Plastic farm animals
- Toy cars
How we put the bridge together:
- Two holes were punched in each potato chip container. One hole close to the rim of the container and one beneath the first hole.
- Holes were punched into the cardboard strips. Two near the front of the strip. One hole was placed on the right and one on the left. Two holes were placed in the back of each strip one on each side.
- The end of a paperclip was threaded through the holes in each of the cans.
- The end of a paperclip was threaded through the holes in each of the cardboard strips.
STEM Engineering Project Bridge Building Questions
- How many paper clips need to be added to the ones hanging from the cans before connecting them to the cardboard strip?
- How far apart do the cans need from the bridge to keep them flat on the ground?
- How many animals can fit on each of the cardboard strips while keeping the cans flat?
- What amount of space needs to between each animal?
- Which bridge is the easiest for the animals to cross?
- Do you need to add more paperclips to the narrowest cardboard bridge?
You don’t have to explore each of these questions. You can just pick one or two. As my son was building, I posed these questions organically. Each of these could be the essential question for the STEM Engineering project.
We did a lot of higher level thinking in this engineering project. We found that the bridge needs to be able to swing for it to work well with animals traveling on it.
It was such fun to build a variety of bridges and see which worked best. After completing our investigation, I placed all the building supplies in a basket in my son’s room. I was thrilled to later see him exploring more ways to build bridge with the materials when I peeked in his room.
Here are some other fun experiments we have done:
If you try this STEM engineering project, please share a picture of your bridge with me on my Facebook page.