Paper Bridge Materials Challenge

Contributor
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies and Prof. Margot Vigeant of Bucknell University
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
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 activity is an extension of the Paper Bridge Design Challenge.  In addition to making bridges out of folded pieces of paper, students will have access to a variety of materials (construction paper, aluminum foil, wax paper, cardstock, and more) to construct and test bridges.  Students will investigate the question, “How do engineers decide which materials to use?”

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

K-2-ETS1-3 Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This resource contains a graphic organizer students may utilize to collect data and guiding questions that can be utilized for anecdotal notes throughout the design challenge. To strengthen the Performance Expectation, the teacher may use the guiding questions and have students draw and write in their science journals.

2-PS1-2 Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose.

Clarification Statement: Examples of properties could include, strength, flexibility, hardness, texture, and absorbency.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative measurements is limited to length.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Real bridges are built from many different materials such as steel, concrete, and wood. How do engineers decide which materials to use? Students will participate in an engineering design activity where they will construct bridges using a variety of materials, including construction paper, aluminum foil, and cardstock.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will decide which materials they will use to build their bridge and construct an argument with evidence to support their claim. This resource has guiding questions and suggestions to engage students in argumentation. For example, before students build their bridge, they must address the following questions: “Which material(s) do you think will make the strongest bridge? How could we find out?” Before building their bridge students will be able to bend, stretch, rip, and even fold the various materials. After building their bridges and recording their results, students will discuss the results as a class using the following prompts: “Did any of your results surprise you? Did some materials do better than others in certain tests, but not others? Now knowing what you do about these materials, which one would you pick to build a strong bridge? Why? Is this the same as your original prediction?”

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students decide which materials they will use to build their bridges. Students then collect data on the materials used and the amount of weight (number of pennies) their bridge was able to support.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The teacher should lead students in a process of making connections with their paper bridge designs and how engineers utilize a variety of materials exploring how different materials serve a particular purpose.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This Crosscutting Concept can be met when students test their bridges, gather evidence, and discuss the materials they used. To further meet this expectation, the teacher should utilize the suggestions provided in the second practice “engaging in argument from evidence”.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students will make connections that, with every human-made product such as bridges, the design requires some knowledge of the natural world and is built using materials found in the natural world. Students will engage in conversations based on data regarding how the different materials provide more structure and stability for their bridges.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson addresses all three dimensions of learning as defined by the NGSS. This lesson meets the Performance Expectation for second grade, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and a K-2 engineering design activity by having students construct bridges out of different materials.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource contains guiding questions throughout the lesson; lesson plan variations; career connections; and a data table that teachers can replicate and use with their students.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This resource contains three different worksheets that students can utilize to collect data during the design challenge. These resources include a graphic organizer where students can collect data on the different types of material used and their strengths; a sheet to illustrate their bridge, list the materials utilized, and the number of pennies it was able to hold; and a sheet to rank materials from strongest to weakest. To further strengthen this resource the teacher can have students respond to the guiding questions in their science journals.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The resource provides two links under the “Teacher Prep” tab that teachers can utilize to help build background knowledge on materials. The “Bitesize” resource provides information on different materials presented in a kid-friendly format and includes a digital game where students can save Earth by building a spaceship out of the wrong materials. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks2/science/materials/material_properties/play/ The Harford County “Bridge Construction and Materials” sight provides information about the type different types of materials used to build bridges and why that specific material is commonly used.