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Bridge Building

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  1. Bridge Building Webquest

  2. Table of contents • Introduction • Roles • Task • Process • Evaluation • Conclusion • credits

  3. Introduction to Engineering Design • Welcome to the engineering world. This project is designed to use simple materials to hold massive amounts of weight. Massive amounts of weight can be held through simple physics, math and science. The Bridge Building Webquest is designed for a team of four students to design and build their own wooden bridge.  The team researches  bridge designs, researches insurance, chooses occupations, and tracks spending.  At the conclusion of the project the bridge is stress-tested to determine its strength.

  4. During this project you will incorporate many connections from “real life” mathematics.  Working in teams of 4, you will research bridge designs, building codes and rules, and then design your own bridge to span a 1 foot “canyon”.  Using web sites, you will research the four project job descriptions, choose jobs, and set salaries.  Your team will design the bridge and the team will submit a bid for the bridge’s projected cost.  Non-traditional tasks pop up during the project for your team to solve.  Finally, your bridge is stress-tested to determine the weight it can hold.  

  5.  Your team is responsible for choosing a company name and designing and building the most efficient bridge you can out balsa wood.  Be careful with your design and during the building process as balsa wood is very fragile.  Each member of the team will need to choose one of the following jobs:

  6. Roles •  Your team is responsible for choosing a company name and designing and building the most efficient bridge you can out balsa wood.  Be careful with your design and during the building process as balsa wood is very fragile.  Each team will need to choose one of the following jobs: • Project Manager • Engineer • Accountant • Carpenter

  7. Project Manager • Will research the history of bridges and compile pictures and information describing some of the more famous bridges ever built. • During the building process the GM supervises all employees and makes sure all are doing their jobs. • Signs and approves building plans and purchase orders. • Fills out all applications connected with the project (salary worksheet, bid worksheet, construction permit, and insurance applications and keeps all important papers connected with the project organized. • Sees that construction site is maintained neatly and materials are stored safely. • Helps construct the bridge. • Performs the duties of anyone absent.

  8. Engineer • Will research the design elements of bridges. • Runs preliminary planning sessions with the company to decide on the general design of the bridge. • Draws the plans for the bridge to scale on graph paper (top, bottom, and side views). • Fills out purchase orders for the type and quantity of materials needed, then gives them to the accountant for further processing. • Helps construct the bridge, making sure the plans are followed.

  9. Accountant • Will research basic information on insurance. • Prepares the bid worksheet. • Designs the company’s checks. • Writes the company’s checks for payrolls, services, and materials. • Keeps balance sheet up to date by posting checks to balance sheet. • Helps construct the bridge, when not performing accounting tasks.

  10. Carpenter • Will research occupations and briefs team members about their research. • Leads planning session to set salaries. • Helps construct the bridge.

  11. Task • Your task is to research three types of bridges using a variety of web based resources: suspension, truss, and beam bridges.  You will then organize your research into a well-organized, typed, two-page research paper.  After completing the research, you will pick a bridge to construct using the balsa wood bridge building kits. You will submit a scaled blueprint drawing of your bridge with some load calculations as well. After construction, the bridges will be tested and weighed to determine their efficiency in a classroom competition.

  12. Process • Step 1: • Students will research three types of bridges: truss, beam, and suspension bridges using a variety of web-based resources. Teams will need to visit the following Websites to determine the type of bridge that they will build.

  13. websites: • • • • •

  14. Process • Step 2: Using Microsoft Word, students will write a two-page summary of their research (12 pt. font, double space, 1" margins) focusing on a comparison of each of the types of bridges including advantages and disadvantages of each.  (one per group) • As well as a one page paper (12 pt. font, single space, 1" margins) explaining their role in the bridge designing process. (one per member)

  15. Process • Step 3: Based on their research, students will then choose which type of bridge they will construct using balsa wood for the classroom competition. 

  16. Process • Step 4: Using graph paper, students will draw an initial scale drawing of their bridge. The scale drawing should include a top (plan) view and a side (profile) view. The drawing should include all beams that will be included in the bridge. Students should use the class "Bridge-building" manual to ensure that the design is within the guidelines for competition. 

  17. Process • Step 5: After the scale drawing is complete, student should choose one bridge section (minimum 3 beams) and do a load analysis of each of the beams.

  18. Process • Step 6: Students will begin to construct a model of their bridge using balsa wood. Students should follow the guidelines provided in the class "Bridge-building" manual

  19. Process • Step 7: Students will tape the scale drawing to a large piece of cardboard and then begin to place the different parts of the bridge directly over the scale drawing. They may also want to overlay the scale drawing with wax paper. The wax paper will keep the freshly glued components from sticking to the scale drawing. Lay the beams directly onto the drawing and use straight pins to hold each piece in place. 

  20. Process • Step 8: Once students have all of the pieces laid out and pinned to their drawing, they will glue on the gusset plates working from one end of the bridge to the other, pulling the stringers taut as they go.

  21. Process • Step 9: Students should allow each completed side, top, or bottom to dry overnight before removing from the component from the scale drawing.

  22. Process • Step 10: After they have glued up both sides and the top and bottom, it is time to put all of the pieces together. Students can use gusset plates to join all the different pieces together.

  23. Process • Step 11: To complete the project, all of the students' bridges will be weighed and load tested to calculate an overall efficiency in a classroom competition. • Note: All model bridges will be load tested until they break.

  24. Evaluation

  25. Conclusion • Congratulations, you have succeeded in expanding your knowledge about bridges and their construction process. I hope you have gained valuable experience from completing this activity and have had a little fun along the way. • Who would have thought building a bridge out of plain old balsa wood, would have been so challenging.  Think about the learning and experiences you encountered along the way.  You and your team researched bridge history, different types of bridge designs, basic insurance, and occupations.  As in real life, different applications had to be filled out prior to beginning construction.

  26. credits • Tim Hoffmann, Orange Ulster Boces • Jeff Rhodus, Elsanor