Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Phenomenon)

Contributor
Kinolibrary Archive Film collections http://www.kinolibrary.com. Clip ref BPA59
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Animation/Movie , Phenomenon
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This one and half minute silent video shows the phenomenon of the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge located in Washington state.  The bridge opened to traffic on July 1, 1940 and collapsed only four months later on November 7, 1940.  

This phenomenon could stimulate the following driving questions as an introduction to an elementary unit on bridge design, waves and natural hazards. 

  • What caused the movement in the bridge?
  • Show me with your hands how the bridge moved. Why did that cause the bridge to fall?
  • What could have caused this bridge to bend and twist?
  • What caused the 'waves' and how could an engineer minimize wave action on a bridge?
  • How does this bridge design compare to a similar bridge you have seen?
  • How do engineers use this video to rebuild and improve a new bridge?
  • What does normal flexibility look like for a suspension bridge of this size? 
  • Was there prior evidence of this impending collapse?

Intended Audience

Learner
Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

- none -

Performance Expectations

4-PS4-1 Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.

Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include diagrams, analogies, and physical models using wire to illustrate wavelength and amplitude of waves.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include interference effects, electromagnetic waves, non-periodic waves, or quantitative models of amplitude and wavelength.

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Discuss how the movement in the bridge is similar to a jump-rope when you move the ends up and down to create waves. After they understand that the wind caused waves to tear the bridge apart, then you can ask about how to re-build the bridge so that there are fewer waves. Since the science/physics of 'resonant frequencies of waves' is at a higher level than elementary school, it is suggested to use 4th grade wording, that energy from the wind was just the right “wavelength”, to cause a huge amplitude of waves in the bridge.

3-ESS3-1 Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.

Clarification Statement: Examples of design solutions to weather-related hazards could include barriers to prevent flooding, wind resistant roofs, and lightning rods.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
As students observe the effects of natural hazards, they can learn through engineering design that we can take steps to reduce the impact from these natural processes.

3-5-ETS1-3 Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Using this bridge collapse phenomenon as a unit starting point, students can be actively engaged in learning the engineering design process to evaluate bridge building designs and how models can be improved through planning, testing, and redesigning.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students watching the video will notice that something caused the bridge to twist and sway and then collapse. Through questioning and discussion, students are encouraged to think about the relationship between the stability of the bridge, the weather event and the outcome.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Through guided questioning students can observe in the video that energy from the wind was just the right 'wavelength' to cause a huge 'amplitude' of waves in the bridge that caused the bridge to collapse.

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Student discussions can include researching bridge designs as well as investigating other possible bridge failures. Through the engineering design process students can be introduced to the importance of testing designs under a variety of weather related events, weight capacity, and structure.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
A suspension bridge consists of two categories: 'superstructure' and 'substructure'. Prior to learning about the parts of a suspension bridge, students watching this video can observe and analyze what shapes and parts they see on or under the Tacoma Bridge. Through guided questioning maybe they will see the roadway, two towers, and main suspension cables (superstructure). They may also see below the bridge some type of anchors for the bridge to hold the cables, or foundations that support the two towers. Through deeper investigation throughout the unit students will begin to understand that each of these parts serve a function as they reflect back on this video.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: - none -

  • Instructional Supports: - none -

  • Monitoring Student Progress: - none -

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -