Monday, March 30, 2015

Fantastic Foam Bridges - March 30, 2015

I do a lot of hands-on building projects because the students seem to enjoy them the most. This project is a variation on a marshmallow bridge project. This one is really exciting for the students because there's an element of competition, which brings and urgency into the situation.

 Supplies List:

  •     Foam cubes - it doesn't matter what the size is unless it's really small. 1 inch foam cubes work pretty well.
  •     Toothpicks
  •     Small cups to hold pennies (tiny cups you'd get from a dentist's office)
  •     Paper clips
  •     Pennies (up to 700 pennies)
  •     Plastic tub (to catch the pennies if/when the bridge collapses)
I draw a couple of truss bridge designs on a white board and talk about the triangles in the bridge design. Then I go on to talk about the advantages of using triangle; however, I caution them about the hypotenuse. With the toothpicks, the students have to do something about the length difference.

Project Instructions:

  1.     Hand out a tube of foam cubes and ~250 toothpicks to each team of students.
  2.     Build whatever shape the team wants to build.
  3.     Build, test, & build, again!
Here are some records to break for next year:

2nd graders - last year, 298 pennies
3rd graders - this year, 250 pennies
4th graders - this year, 450 pennies
5th graders - this year, 650 pennies

I don't have a lot of class pictures because I have to load the pennies very carefully, evening out the load on the bridge. So, the teachers take the pictures, but I haven't received the pictures, yet. So, here's what I have.

~150 pennies in the right and the left cups each

Try this one at home and have a wonderful time.

P.S. - The only problem with this project is that the foam cubes are quite expensive (between $17.95 - $24.95 per 102 cubes), and we can't keep reusing the foam cubes. So, it does get expensive for a class project when I try to collect $10/year/student for the science projects. If you know where I can get them cheaper, please let me know.