Apprentice archtects Build Bridges

Inspired by their study of Roman bridges, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Graders designed and built their own truss bridges. They investigated the elements and physics behind load, tension, and compression, and learned about the central role that triangles play in producing a durable bridge. After drawing blueprints, students measured, marked, and re-measured pieces of balsa wood before teachers cut their requests. Construction was a multi-week project and the children's commitment paid off when they were able to test the surprising load strength of their bridges.

A letter from Chief Engineer (STEM Specialist) Katherine Parisky to the apprentice architects (2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade students):

"Designing a New Aelius Bridge

Your next task as apprentice architect is to present a blueprint model of your truss bridge to the Chief Engineer for the new Aelius Bridge, a small stone bridge that connects the city center of Rome to the western shore of the Tiber River. Although a small bridge, the Aelius is heavily used by many people, including merchants, day-laborers, and those heading into town to sell or purchase food and goods. Recently, there have been complaints by Roman citizens that the bridge is unstable and possibly on the verge of collapsing! Since this is a popular bridge, it is essential that you create a suitable, structurally sound bridge. As you design your truss bridge blueprint, you will need to measure each line with accuracy and precision. After you decide on your final bridge design and complete your sketch, you will submit your graph paper blueprint to one of the lead architects for approval. Not only does the Chief Engineer expect quality work, but it would be a great honor for you to have your design chosen for the new Aelius Bridge. Remember to work carefully and be sure to check your work along the way.

Bona Fortuna!"