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In the Building Bridges Flinn STEM Design Challenge™ for physical science and physics, design and build a balsa wood bridge using only wood and glue. Compete with others to build a bridge that supports the largest amount of weight.

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Bridges have been around for thousands of years, some as simple as a fallen tree over a creek and others as complicated as the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. In this challenge, students design and build a balsa wood bridge using only wood and glue. Their goal is to build a bridge that supports the largest amount of weight. Tasks include designing blue prints, building within specific criteria and constraints and completing construction on time. Students will love this activity while learning about forces and making models along with the value of teamwork and determination!

Weights are required and available separately.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
MS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-PS2.A: Forces and Motion
HS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Crosscutting Concepts

Scale, proportion, and quantity
Structure and function

Performance Expectations

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object