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Mar 08

Science Kit: Engineer a Bridge

Posted on March 8, 2021 at 12:00 AM by Elizabeth Land

Science kits are back at the York County Public Library! This month's kit explores engineering and bridge design. Different shapes have different strengths. So, put on your thinking cap and let's learn about what makes a bridge strong and what makes a bridge weak. 

Galloping Gerdie

The strongest type of bridge is a stone arch. However, these bridges are expensive to build and are limited in size and height. They are not the best choice when building over a very wide river that has a lot of big boat traffic. A suspension bridge is an economical way to build and they are easy to maintain and update over time. But, these bridges must be built in specific way. Take a look at this video of a poorly designed suspension bridge:

The above video shows the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsing. This suspension bridge earned the nickname "Galloping Gerdie" while it was being built because the wind would make it bounce up and down. Four months after it was built, it finally collapsed when the winds reached gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. Many engineers have learned a lot about bridge design from studying this bridge’s collapse. You can, too!

Our science kits are available for pick up while supplies last. Stop by the Tabb Library or the Yorktown Library to pick up your kit and learn more about bridges. In your kit, you will be challenged to create three different bridge surface shapes and determine which is the strongest by making them collapse. Based on the results, try to improve your design when building the next bridge. Along the way you will be using the steps of the engineering process.

Can't get to the library to pick up a kit? Download the March Science Kit pdf now to get all the instructions and supplies you need to complete the experiment. Have fun and always keep exploring!