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We do a lot of science-based activities but not many that full under the engineering category. A very long time ago when I was in (maybe) year 4 we made bridges using balsa wood. I was terrible at constructing mine, in fact I don’t think I managed to complete the task as I kept snapping the wood. For some reason my memory of this was triggered while clearing out a box full of long paper craft straws, and I thought it would be an interesting project for YC and EC to do. They were both very eager to make these bridges and I had to do it over 2 days because on one of the days YC was at a play date and would have missed it otherwise.

You will need:

  • Paper straws
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Before we started EC and I looked at some bridges and discussed how important it is for a bridge to have the correct support or it would just collapse. We did briefly talk about the different forces at work and how different bridges are supported in different ways, such as a suspension bridge having wire cables to keep it up whereas a beam bridge has pillars.

IMG_7774

EC dived right in without giving much thought about what was going to keep his bridge up, he spent maybe an hour on it before he realised that his bridge wasn’t actually going to stand up at all. He wanted to throw it away and start again, but with a little bit of help we discussed how he could adapt his current bridge and give it the support it needed to stand up.

EC's finished bridge

EC’s finished bridge

When YC joined us the next day, while we were finishing ours up, she took a careful look at what we were making and used what she thought were the best features to make her own unique bridge.

YC's finished bridge

YC’s finished bridge

Both of them were really proud of their finished products and they are now on display in the playroom (although nobody is allowed to touch them because they will probably collapse).

This activity may help development of:

  • Creativity
  • Scientific discovery
  • Problem solving
  • Using different tools and material to achieve a desired outcome.

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Challenge children to build a bridge using only paper straws, paper and tape in this STEM project.