Bridge Types: Tensile and Compressive Forces

Bridges rely on tension and compression to keep them standing. Pairs test this principle by constructing simple bridges and applying a force to the center. Teams use the provided worksheet to record their observations of the reaction of the bridge materials before labeling the types of forces encountered at specific points. 

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Instructional Ideas

  • Find a video that highlights the forces on a bridge to use to reinforce the concepts learned in the activity
  • Consider giving groups the materials and have them determine how to build each bridge instead of following the directions
Classroom Considerations

  • Requires several different mediums to build model bridges
  • The second of a 10-part series on bridges
Pros

  • Contains a notes page in order to help individuals organize their thoughts
  • The resource has a description of the major types of bridges that pupils test in the activity
Cons

  • The Bridge Types & Forces Worksheet Answers document has an incorrect answer for question four; the top and bottom of the beam designations are reversed
NGSS