The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Designing Bridges

First grade students have been learning about structures and how certain shapes are stronger than others in a design challenge with Design Teacher Deborah Morrone Bianco. 

To spark their creative problem-solving skills Deborah presented the students with a scenario: A bridge separating one side of a town from the other has broken. Fay students must figure out how to reconnect the two sides of town so that the children can get to school. 

Deborah gave students a primer on different bridge structures to inspire their designs. She showed them examples of arch bridges, beam bridges, suspension bridges, truss bridges, and cantilever bridges, comparing the strength of different materials and shapes incorporated into each design. Students also looked at more unique bridge designs, such as The Rolling Bridge in London, a bridge that rolls up like a caterpillar when it is not in use. Deborah then took students through the Fay Design process, explaining each step from defining the problem to ideating solutions, making a prototype, and evaluating their design. She then gave students a design sheet and asked them to brainstorm four different ideas explaining that this was their time to be creative and use their imagination to develop a unique solution.

As students sketched, you could see them sampling different aspects of what they had learned in their designs. After learning that triangles are one of the strongest shapes, some students combined them with the beauty and functionality of arches to create their bridge. Students selected their best design and started to build. Each student had to select the construction materials they thought would work the best, choosing from a limited selection of paper straws, popsicle sticks, paper towel rolls, string, tape, and glue. 

Next week, students will be testing their bridge design prototypes. Their goal will be to have their bridge hold as much weight as possible without collapsing. To test its strength, students will place a 3D printed miniature fiat 500 (a nod to Deborah’s home in Calabria, Italy!) on their bridge and stack as many magnets as possible on top.
main number 508-490-8250
admission 508-490-8201