My second grade gifted and talented students are currently studying bridges. We have been using the PBS Building Big site, which has some great interactive labs and suggested classroom activities. We have also been using the K’Nex Bridges kits, and will be exploring the “Bridge that Gap” challenge (Here are some other K’Nex Challenges). There is also a Structures Curriculum packet that is a free download from K’Nex. Here you can find a great compilation of famous bridges. One of my favorite new resources, though, is a pair of iPad apps that allow the students to learn about different materials and types of bridges by making their own and testing them. They are very similar. One is called, “Bridge Constructor Playground.” This one gives a tutorial that slowly introduces the different types of materials and methods. Users can build virtual bridges and test them with cars and trucks. What I like about this app is that you can have many different answers for each phase. What I don’t like about the free version is that it has an advertisement between each level. (The kids quickly learned to hit the “x” every time, though. ) The other app is merely called, “Bridge Constructor.” In this one, you are given different scenarios and budgets for your designs, and must stay within those constraints to meet the challenge. There is a free version of this app, as well, and it did not appear to have as many ads as the “Playground” version did.
We are going to add some depth and complexity to our lesson by talking about multiple perspectives and the ethics of building bridges. The 2nd graders truly seem to be enjoying this portion of our “Structures” unit, and we may have a hard time moving on!