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MOVIE 1:   3 minutes 16 seconds
Paper Bridge Challenge

The Challenges of Physical Science curriculum has created tasks with strong links to Standards-based science content objectives. The Paper Bridge challenge asks students to make the lightest bridge (using the least amount of materials) out of a single sheet of paper so that it holds 1 to 3 water bottles suspended off the ground for 10 seconds. Students design and construct their bridges, and weigh them before testing them to see how much material they are using in each design. Students explore force vectors while making many design iterations (design-and-test cycles) in a short period of time.

Within DITC's Paper Bridge pages, you can find the following:

  •   3 Paper Bridge Designs  The science behind 3 typical bridge designs -- shaped in a V, Y and T -- is discussed.
  •   Paper Under Stress  Understanding how paper works and fails can help inform students' designing.
  •   Vector & Diagonal Forces  Read a tutorial on force vectors -- a key idea behind the Paper Bridge task.
  •   Video Timeline  Watch the day-to-day implementation for the 3-day Paper Bridge activity.
  •   Designing Your Lessons  Watch a movie about the materials you will need and read about key issues you'll need to know about when planning this unit.
  •   Student Work  Watch a video sampler of bridge designs that students created and tested.
  • Pack of 3-hole punched 8.5x11" paper
  • Paper reinforcement tabs
  • 1-liter bottles (3/4 filled with water)
  • Digital scale (0.1 gram accuracy)
  • Scissors, twine, rulers
  • 2x4 wood, 2-4 ft long
  • C-clamps to fix wood to table top
View or print out copies of the student materials for the first Paper Bridge activity by clicking on the icon or title below. Visit the Kendall-Hunt website to purchase the rest of the unit.
  Paper Bridge Challenge (4 pages)

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