Lesson 4
Part 2

To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges

Designing a Bridge (2) / Grade 2 / Arlington, MA

The EIE Curriculum

EiE - To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges, L4 Part 2

Students apply their knowledge of balance, forces, and civil engineering as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own bridges.

Reflection Questions

What evidence do you see that students are thinking critically about criteria and constraints they’ve identified?

As students are designing, they take it upon themselves to test with the barge and think about ways to place the parts of their bridge to maximize the number of weights it can hold. 

  • A student shares that she thinks they should put their pier in the middle because that’s where the weight will be added. (2:00)
  • Another group decides to make a slight tweak to their bridge in order to be sure the barge can fit underneath. (2:30)

How do you see students using the Improve step of the Engineering Design Process during this part of the lesson?

Though several preliminary bridge designs fail, students work quickly to think about possible improvements, including adding piers or changing the shape of the bridge.

  • One pair’s bridge begins to fail when they only have a few washers in their testing cup. A group member immediately suggests adding a pier. (4:50)
  • Ann is standing by another pair when their bridge begins to fail. While she asks them how they might improve it so it doesn’t collapse, a group member has already started adding a support to the span of the bridge.
  • During her interview, Ann talks about how making improvements or changing an initial design can be difficult for young students, but because the Improve step is presented as an integral part of the design process, children accept it readily. (9:50)