Building Bridges

I have been bitten by the creativity bug.  Thanks to conversations with Don Eckert (@dayankee) and others around Twitter, I have felt the need to back off and let my kids shine.  So gone are my cookie cutter projects where I know exactly what I expect.  Gone are my detailed rubrics that put my students into boxes.  Lately I’ve been giving guidelines.  Detailed rubrics are available for those students that don’t feel comfortable letting their creativity show.

We watched some videos about bridges.  What types? What does it take to keep them up?

Then I gave them the guidelines for their projects.


Research your design and explain why you choose the type you choose.


Must be able to support a 5 pound weight.

Heart Beat

Bridge must be able to flex from side to side.


Describe the ratio your bridge would have in the “real world”.


Describe the ratio your bridge would have in the “real world”.


After a week with this project, finally the reveal day arrived.  Bridges had been appearing in my classroom as if by magic.  Students proud of the work they did.  Students just grateful to have something to turn in.  I had bridges on every available surface!

Out came the rice.  Five pounds of rice.  I had pre-measured the rice to make sure the weights were fair and accurate.  Four one pound bags and two half pound bags.  And the testing began…


IMG_2253 IMG_2254 IMG_2255

The kids were excited to have their bridges tested in class. As you can see from the photo below, the bridges came in all shapes and sizes.


I also had several kids create virtual bridges.  One used Google’s Lego Builder; others used Minecraft.  They created a couple of videos to show me their projects. You can see their videos here and here.

The other part of the testing day was a self-assessment.  Students gave me their opinion of how they thought they did.  They all “graded” themselves lower than I would have.  This led to a great discussion of what is expected and how do we communicate that. I also asked their opinion of the project in general.  Many students wrote something similar to the comment below.  They (in general) loved the project.


But the best comment was from one of my girls.  “That’s the first time my dad and I ever did anything together. And it was fun!” That meant this project was a memory she will cherish for the rest of her life.  SCORE!

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