Exploratorium Field Trip Pathways


Strength and Stability

What makes a structure stand up? What makes one structure stronger or flimsier than another one? What about the structure of our bodies? How come WE don't just fall down every time we try to walk? This Pathway looks at some of the ways in which some objects stay put, or stay in one piece!

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Catenary Arch
  1. Does the completed arch seem strong or stable to you?

  2. What happens when you don’t put the blocks in numerical order?

  3. Instead of an arch, try building a tower. Draw what it looks like.

Beam Bridges

  1. Which beam supports your weight better?

  2. How are the two beams different?

  3. Why do you think one holds you better?

  4. Draw what happens when someone stands in the middle of a beam.
  5. Draw what happens when someone stands near the end of a beam.


Take It from the Top
  1. Can you get the entire block to stick out beyond the length of the bottom block? Draw it.

Balance the Stick

Notice that you can slide the weight up and down.

When is the stick easier to balance—with the weight high or the weight low?


Center of Gravity
  1. Do your hands move smoothly together, or with stops and starts?

  2. When your hands come together, are you balancing the stick?

  3. What do you think makes one hand stop while the other keeps moving?

  4. Try it with two people (using one hand each). What happens?