On Monday , a man called Mr Story came to our school to give us an engineering challenge. Mr Story works for a company which makes bridges as well as railways and houses. They had a real life bridge problem after Christmas. A bridge in Cumbria was washed away by a flood and they had to quickly make a replacement bridge. They had to build a ‘push out’ bridge, like a Bailey bridge because the water flowed too fast to make a pier and there was no room for a crane.
They had to use their brains and find a solution. Mr Story wanted to see what ideas we would come up with if we had a similar challenge! We had to try to build the strongest and cheapest bridge we could.
We worked in groups of about 5 and to make our bridges we used lolly sticks, blue tac, tape and string. These were our basic materials. We had the opportunity to buy more things but we only had a £100 budget. We had to spend it wisely! Our bridges had to cross a gap of 30cm and they had to push out over the space, we weren’t allowed to just place them down.
The bridges were tested on strength by putting eggs on and counting how many they could hold. We counted how much money we had left at the end to see which bridge was they cheapest.
What we learned about bridge building and engineering:
- engineering is used in many building circumstances.
- bridges can be weak in the middle so you have to put lots of weight at the back of the bridge.
- the strongest bridges can use less materials as long as they are used well.
- the strongest shape for a bridge is a triangle.
- when you are working in a group you have to communicate because if you don’t then no one will know what they are meant to be doing and no one will be able to check if it is right, because no one will know!
- If you leave everyone else to do the work and don’t take part then you won’t be as successful and your bridge won’t work.
- You need to work together to make sure everyone has a job and doesn’t get left out.
- this challenge taught us what the terms balance, tension, suspension and stabilised mean.