Topic outline

  • General

    To Get to the Other Side

    Golden Gate

    The Golden Gate Bridge - San Fransisco, California

    In this course you will

    • learn about the six most common bridges.
    • study earthquakes.
    • work in teams to design and test a bridge that will be load-bearing and will survive a simulated earthquake.
    • share your Bridge Building results with peers.

  • Topic 1


    bookThis glossary will be a collaborative collection of words about bridges and earthquakes. Feel free to reference the definitions as you work through the activities in this course. When you have finished the section on bridges, complete the Bridge Puzzler linked below.
  • Topic 2

    All About Bridges

    In this section you will learn all about bridges

    View the panoramic collage above, then go on to the next section called If Bridges Could Talk .
    • Topic 3

      beam If Bridges Could


      In this section you will dig deep to find out about the different kinds of bridges. You will be amazed at all of the varieties!


      1. Select the link below titled "Bridge Basics". Read about the following bridges: beam, truss, arch, and suspension. Save a copy of Key Word Notes into your student folder and jot down 2 - 4 facts about each type of bridge.

      2. Select the links below titled "Bridge Types - Beams" and "Bridge Types - Arch and Suspension". Read about the type of beam structure bridges and add 2 -4 facts about each bridge on your Key Word Notes worksheet.

    • Topic 4

      The residents of Craggy Rock need your help! They need to decide what four types of bridges should be built to accommodate their rapidly growing community.


      1. Click on the link below and take "The Bridge Challenge".

      2. When you have helped the citizens of Craggy Rock, answer the forum reflection question.

    • Topic 5

      World Famous Bridges

      London Bridge
      Tower Bridge - London, England

      How many famous bridges around the world do you know?

      Click on the assignment below and answer the 6 questions to learn more about the most famous bridges in the world.

    • Topic 6

      If Bridges Could Talk...
      Did you ever put a board across a creek?
      If you did, you built one of the six most common types of bridges.

      Click on the link below and take the "If Bridges Could Talk...." Hot Potato matching quiz.

      • Topic 7

        Bridge Basics...
        It's Time to Show What You Know!

        Now that you have mastered the bridge basics, it's time to show what you have learned about these structures.

        If bridges could talk, what do you think they would have to say? Create a Blabberize link to share what you know about bridges. Add it to the forum below. Feel free to watch other students' creations.

        To learn about Blabberize, watch this video first.

      • Topic 8

        Earthquakes 411


        1. With a partner, pick 4 - 5 videos on earthquakes to watch.
        2. Complete a View, Talk, Write on each of the videos. Watch the movie together (you may take notes). After the movie, decide who will share first. The speaker has one minute to share facts, observations and "I wonder" statements. Your partner should keep time for one minute. Switch. Then individually write what you learned from watching the videos.
        3. Answer the reflection questions. Feel free to watch more than 5 videos or search the Internet if you need more information to answer the questions.

        Video Clips for View, Talk, Write
      • Topic 9


        Now that you have learned about earthquakes and where they occur most often, read firsthand accounts from real people who have survived an earthquake!

        Read at least 4 or 5 of the personal accounts written by individuals who experienced an earthquake. The first eyewitness reports listed below were written many years ago, while the last few links are from recent earthquakes. Select accounts from both long ago and from the last twenty years.
      • Topic 10

        Designing an Earthquake-Resistant Bridge

        pastabridgeNow that you have finished the activities in this course, it's time to share your learning. Your team will design, build and test a bridge made completely out of PASTA (and some glue). Document your trial and errors throughout the experiment using a flip camera. When you are finished, link your movie on the Final Projects forum.

        The bridge over Foamy Falls collapsed during a flood. Now, the town of Penneville needs a
        new bridge. To buy the best bridge for the money, the Town Council interviews several civil
        engineering companies. Each engineering team must prepare a detailed list of the materials
        used, a budget, a set of design plans, and a model of the bridge.

        The Town council states that the winning design must be safe and inexpensive.

        Safety requirement: The model bridge must span between 40 - 50 centimeters long. The bridge must support a baseball, and the ball must be able to travel across the bridge from end to end without getting stuck in the center. We will do the final test by attaching a bucket to the bridge and seeing how many coins we can add to it (up to 30 coins).

        To get started, watch these two videos. Jot down ideas and share them with your group about what you think would work best in your pasta bridge design.

      • Topic 11

        Bridge Building Contest Rules

        1. The bridge must be built according to the bridge building code, using only materials supplied by the CardboardPastaGlue Company.

        2. The bridge will be judged by the quality of the building plans (Google SketchUp), as well as the strength and the durability of the bridge.

        Judging of SketchUp Design Plans will be based on
        • design detail
        • cost of the bridge
        • how well the finished bridge matches the plans
        Judging for the strength of the bridge will be tested by
        • placing a bar across the middle of the bridge with a bucket suspended from the bar.
        • the teacher will add weights to the bucket according to the project director's wishes.
        • the last weight that the bridge holds for 30 seconds without touching the cardboard (except at the bridge foundation) is the weight recorded for the strength of the bridge.
        Judging for the durability of the bridge that can withstand
        seismic force will be tested by
        • shaking one table leg while a baseball is rolled from one end of the bridge to the other.
        • the ball must be rolled two times across the bridge.
        • Topic 12

          The Bridge: You Design It!

          Now that you have some ideas of how your bridge should be constructed, it is time to design it! Have Fun!

          Everyone on your team should design a bridge using Google SketchUp. Choose the design your team thinks will support the most coins and resist the most amount of seismic force. Upload your team's final design below.

          Watch the video to learn the basics of Google SketchUp.

        • Topic 13

          The Bridge:You Build It!

          CardboardPastaGlue Company Warehouse
          Price List

          Now that it is time to start bridge construction, you will need to know how much things cost. Listed below are the things you need to purchase.

          Your Company's beginning balance is $1,550,000.00
          Land (cardboard) $500,000
          Lumber (pasta) $10,000 per piece
          Welding Material (glue) $850 per day's supply
          Building-Plans registered $40,000
          Audit Service $2,000

          1. Use the Constructing Your Bridge link to learn how to successfully build your bridge.

          2. Use the Daily Checklist link to keep track of who is supposed to do what each day.

          3. Architect: Use the Supply Order Form to order the supplies you need daily.

          4. Accountant: Use the Balance Sheet to keep track of your budget.

          5. Project Manager: Be sure to fill out your daily reflections in the journal on your company's progress.
        • Topic 14

          The Bridge: You Test It!

          Now that your bridge is constructed according to the Penneville Town Council's requirements, it is time to test your design.

          Test the strength and durability of your bridge by rolling the baseball from one end of the bridge to the other. You may do this as many times as your group would like, however it costs $100 per trial. Feel free to modify and adjust your bridge during this time.

          • Topic 15

            Shake, Rattle and Roll

            The Bridge Interview

            It's time to go before the Town Council of Penneville and hope that your bridge-winning design holds up during this final interview.

            Each company team will demonstrate and present their model to the Town Council of of Penneville (made up of staff and parents). The teacher will fist test the strength of the bridge by adding up to 30 coins in the bucket. Then the Project Manager will roll the ball across the bridge while the teacher shakes one leg of the table. The Town Council will decide which design best meets their communities needs and budget.

            Use the flip camera to document the judging of your bridge. Upload the movie to the final project link.