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Building Bridges

By Mark Warner
Age Range: 7 to 11

This project (which can be carried out in small groups) involves building a bridge. Although this may sound simple, the only materials that the children are allowed to use are paper and paper clips.

A PDF file containing a useful poster and some more detailed information is available here. PDF File

1) Each group should think of a company name for themselves.

2) Each group is given a budget of £100, which they can use to build the bridge. Paper costs £10 per A4 sheet and paper clips cost £3 each! The children should therefore think about what materials they will need before they buy them (No Refunds can be given!).

4) At the end of the activity, compare each groups bridges in terms of strength, fitness for purpose etc.

5) There are a number of variations which can be imposed to make the activity harder for the children:

Reduce the budget.

  • The bridge has to span a gap of 40cm.
  • The bridge has to be able to support a weight (e.g. 50g) in the middle.
  • The bridge has to be able to carry a moving car.
  • The bridge has to be free-standing
  • Impose a time limit (e.g. 30 minutes) in which the children can plan and construct their bridge.

6) Before the lesson, you may wish to teach the children about the strength of different shapes (e.g. triangles are strong, while squares are weak), or you might want to use this activity as a starting-point for discussion about the topic.

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