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Friday, March 7, 2014

Building Bridges in Kindergarten

Our latest engineering challenge involved building bridges. Scholars were very engaged and learned a lot about the parts of a bridge, their function and structural engineering.

We began this challenge with a literature connection. We read, The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires, the story of a gingerbread cowboy who outruns many but finds himself in trouble when he needs to cross a river and a coyote steps in to help out.


The bridge challenge was introduced using the app ChatterKid.



Based on the challenge, scholars worked on their 'Knows' and 'Need to Knows'. This list helps guide lessons as we move forward.


To help answer the questions about parts of a bridge and what makes a bridge strong, I designed an interactive Nearpod presentation. We also read books and watched a short video about bridges.

The next step was to investigate the bridge strength. We used classroom storage units as abutments and piers and paper towel as the deck of the bridge. Flat glass marbles served as weights. 
At the end of this experience, it was pretty clear that the pier plays a pretty important role in supporting the beam bridge.


Scholars couldn't wait to get started planning their own bridges. For materials, they would be using counting cubes, fettuccine and masking tape. 




Engineering partners worked together to build a bridge based on their plan.




Bridges were tested using weight placed on the bridges in increments of 10... a nice authentic reason to count by 10's:)



Most of the bridges held some weight but 2 of the bridges held 100+ weights (flat marbles).  Scholars made observations about what could have made these bridges so strong.


Once again, scholars couldn't wait to get started...they wanted to use the data we gathered to improve their bridges.




During the second bridge testing, nearly all of the bridges had additional piers and the piers were more substantial. Several engineering teams used cubes to add support to the deck of their bridge. There was much applause as bridges withstood additional weight being added.

And, one final note, as scholars left this afternoon for Spring Break, I overheard one ask another about what she was going to do over Spring Break...the reply?..."Build bridges!!"


1 comment:

Teresa said...

I'm using your ideas to have my kinder students make a bridge for the 3 Billy Goats Gruff. I am making a few changes because I'm implementing this challenge earlier in the school year. Thanks so much for a great start. It was laborious finding ideas on the internet, but this is the perfect difficulty level.