Seward’s sixth-graders are taking on a civil engineering project in Mr. Pekny’s technology class.
They started their creative and problem-solving journey in Bridge Designer, a free educational software resembling computer-aided design (CAD) that gives students an authentic, hands-on experience.
Using the program’s project setup wizard, they chose from a variety of bridge decks, elevations and support configurations; considered various constraints; and calculated load capacities and building costs.
For the next two weeks, they will build a structural model of their highway bridge out of balsa wood. When complete, the bridges will be laid across a deep river valley—a 5-gallon plastic bucket—and tested for their load capacity, up to 5 pounds of gravel.
Crossing multiple STEM subjects, this kind of project-based, applied learning challenges students to ask questions and collaborate to find solutions to real world problems.