Newspaper Bridges

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What It Is (continued)

  • supports the weight of one or more books

  • is not anchored to the ground or tables by any other material.

    The students will adjust and modify their bridges over several class sessions. Sometimes they will have to scrap their initial designs and start over. This often provides an opportunity to talk to students about the fact that you learn as much or more from things that do not work as from things that do work. Ideas that fail in practice can be very frustrating. It is important to recognize and acknowledge the learning that comes from these failed attempts. Ask the students to keep notes of their efforts in their journals. They will generally draw pictures and detail how their structures become stronger over time.

    When the bridges are completed in the second or third session, test their strength one by one in front of the whole class. See Discussing Results below for ideas.

    Many bridges may actually hold the weight of one or more students. Students become quite excited by the challenge of trying to hold their own weight, and this can lead to several extensions (see below).

    Discussing Results

    Before beginning the testing, ask the following questions:

  • How did you start building? Was there a plan or a general idea?

  • What was your group's process of making the bridge?

  • Did you get stuck or run into any problems? How did you overcome them?

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