Clay Bridges

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What It Is (continued)

Have students discuss these questions with partners or in small groups before you have a whole-group discussion. If students have been keeping science logs, have them refer back for information. Sample questions include:

  • What difficulties did you face when trying to make long bridges? How did you overcome them?

  • Do you think that you can make a bridge with the same amount of clay?

    Have the students begin to build their bridges; when they complete their bridges, ask them if they could build even longer ones. How long do they think that they could make them? Have them try to build these longer bridges.

    Have the students record the lengths and shapes of the bridges on chart paper so that they will have a record of the class efforts.

    Discussing Results

    Have the students talk about what was successful and what was difficult. Ask them to compare the form of a clay bridge to that of a steel bridge. The following questions may be useful in sparking discussions:

  • How did you begin to build?

  • What did you do to "anchor" the ends of the bridge to the table?

  • How did you keep it from sagging?

  • Did you think that it would fall? Why?

  • How did it collapse? Where was it weak/strong?

  • Does there seem to be a maximum length for this material?

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