02 February 2013

Building Bridges

This year I've finally been able to do one of those things I've had on the list, but never seemed to find the time to do as a teacher working
in the Center for Academic Progress at Sahel Academy ~ 

enrichment units for students whose test scores indicate they might benefit
from the extra challenge.

It is finally happening with the 2nd grade class (and this 3rd marking period, we've expanded to include eligible 3rd grade students as well)!

Before Christmas, we explored the topic of bridges...
looking at the longest and most amazing bridges all around the world...
who builds bridges and what types of careers are implicated in bridge construction...
why bridges last...
what happens when a bridge falls...
culminating in each student constructing his or her own model bridge
and explaining "how it worked" using vocabulary like:

live and dead load
compression, tension forces
trusses making use of both compression and tension forces makes a bridge stronger, longer
beam bridges
arch bridges
cantilever bridges
suspension bridges

testing their bridge to see how much weight it would hold,
or mixing and molding concrete forms

Do you know which shape is stronger and more stable?

Exploring how compression forces can be used to build an arch bridge.

Jonathan was a part of this group... so we've got photos of him actually constructing his bridge, with structural help and guidance from his daddy 
and artistic advice and encouragement from his sisters.

Students presenting their bridge to the rest of the 2nd grade class...

wooden truss bridge

reinforced concrete beam bridge


suspension bridge

beam bridge which also utilized suspension to maintain the strength of the beam

Jonathan's bridge... and the ancient Roman scene he created to go with it!

Exploratory, gently guided learning is a lot of fun with motivated kids!


This quarter, this group of students will be writing, directing, producing, managing and acting in their own plays, taken from fables such as:

"The Bad Kangaroo"
"Madame Rhinoceros and Her Dress"
"The Hen and the Apple Tree"

I can't wait to see what they come up with this time!


  1. Sounds like you are having lots of fun with this group, Richelle! :)

    1. hey - i'm leaving you the book i used for the bridges project. the whole time i was doing it with the kids i kept thinking, "this is the kind of thing beth would do..."

    2. Thanks, Richelle. It does look like a lot of fun. I definitely have to do some learning myself before diving in. :)


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