The Bridge as a Connection

Why were the
bridges built?

The Bridge as Machine

How did they
build the bridges?

The Bridge as Art

Why do the bridges
look like they do?
  People of the Bridge
Who designed
the bridges?

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Lesson Plans
Math and Science

The Bridge Challenge

There are many different types of bridges, each with advantages and disadvantages depending on their intended use, size and height requirements. This lesson is designed to examine those difference through the use of an interactive web site.

Lesson Objectives

The students will be introduced to the different type of bridges using a virtual reality bridge builder on the internet. At the end of this lesson students will be able to understand:

  1. The difference between four different types of bridges; beam, arch, cable-stayed, and suspension.
  2. The factors that relate to building a bridge.

Time: One or two class periods

Materials Needed:

  • Copies of THE BRIDGE CHALLENGE Activity Sheet
  • Access to computers connected to the internet

Lesson Steps

1. Have the students sketch a picture of a bridge. (Allow 3-5 minutes)

2. Discuss with students…

  • What are some characteristics of the bridge you drew?
  • What shapes did you use in your bridge?
  • What are some materials that engineers use to make bridges?
  • Name some bridges in our area? Which one is the longest? Do you know why it's the longest?
  • If you were an engineer or bridge builder, what are some challenges you might face?

3. Explain to the students that today they will act as a bridge building engineer and that they are going to face some challenges as they learn about different types of bridges.

4. Go over the activity instructions with the students.   Activity sheet


  • What are the different types of bridges you built today?
  • What were the materials used to build these bridges?
  • Why were these materials chosen?
  • What were some challenges you faced as an engineer as you were constructing the bridges?


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