Central third graders use STEAM to test bridge-building skills

Sunday, September 29, 2019 | 12:39 PM

Third graders in Ms. Rebecca Zimmerman’s class at Central Elementary School designed and built 3D bridges earlier this week. The students worked in teams to create bridges that would withstand the weight of up to 200 pennies.

“This is a STEAM activity and extension from our weekly reading story Pop’s Bridge,” said Ms. Zimmerman.

Six teams of students engineered six different structures, then competed to see which bridge would hold the most weight. Prior to the bridges being tested to see how many pennies in a cup they could support, students were asked to examine each structure and make predictions on which ones they thought would withstand the added weight. Sixteen students thought the first bridge would hold the most weight.

Students then watched on as Ms. Zimmerman tested each of the six bridges. The test started with 50 pennies in a cup. Each of the bridges was able to support the weight of 50 pennies. Weight was then increased by 50 for several subsequent trials. At 200 pennies, bridge number six was the first to collapse under the added weight. The remaining five bridges all supported more than 200 pennies successfully.

Following the test, students discussed why the first structure failed, and why the others were able to successfully support the added weight.