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Year 9 project: "Bridges to nowhere"

Tuesday 28 August 2018, by JMC

How can we use Maths to engineer a beautiful bridge?

The learning targets were :
- I can develop a creative design which fits a given brief.
- I can use my knowledge of structures and materials to develop a detailed plan.
- I can select and use tools to make a high quality product
- I can apply accuracy and precision.
- I can deduce and prove geometric principles

Students looked at three case studies examining the engineering language of bridges, the structural systems of bridges and the mathematical principles underlying their design.

They met with an expert from a local company who talked to our students about engineering bridges. Students learned about the forces involved and the materials that are available.

Immersion allowed students to intuitively work out what makes structures strong through experimentation and play. Fieldwork was carried out in Hull where students visited the Humber Bridge and walked up the Hull river corridor looking at several different examples of bridges and relating this to their other immersion experiences.
Students used their experiences to design and test bridges which they made from spaghetti. This allowed them to begin to develop their own bridges which would fulfil their design brief – “Design a bridge which will hold our whole class.”

Pupils built draft models using 1:10 scale drawings that they had created and learned how to classify shapes using Mathematical proofs. They also learned how to calculate the forces that would act upon their bridges and how to select materials that would be strong enough based on these calculations.

Final Product – 1:5 scale model of bridge designs

The final products were a 1:5 scale model of the students’ own bridge design and a written Design Proposal which included the maths and design work that they used to engineer their own beautiful bridges.