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A bridge too far...

Lesson idea. A brief explanation of an investigation in to the load carrying capabilities of bridges of varying length and cross sectional area, each built from a piece of A4 paper.

Teaching approach. This activity supports a number of learning types:

  • small group work(ta) - investigation conducted by small groups reporting back to the class.
  • whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) - discussion of each situation open-ended questions(ta) – why did this happen? what do you think causes this movement?
  • peer assessment(ta) – do peers agree?
  • project work – linked in with the rest of the activities in this OER, topic work in design and technology, literacy, numeracy
  • inquiry(ta)-based learning – initial presentation to the class can be framed as a problem for them to solve; co-enquiry – children working collaboratively
  • arguing and reasoning(ta) – persuading each other about their explanations.
  • exploring ideas – developing understanding of key scientific principles.
Resource details
Title Building bridges from a piece of A4 paper
Topic [[Topics/Force|Force]]
Teaching approach

[[Teaching Approaches/Assessment|Assessment]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Dialogue|Dialogue]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Questioning|Questioning]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Whole class|Whole class]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Group work|Group work]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Inquiry|Inquiry]],  [[Teaching Approaches/Reasoning|Reasoning]]

Learning Objectives
  • Gaining understanding of the nature of force and the way in which force acts on objects, in the context of paper bridges bearing weights.
  • Gathering data and draw conclusions.


Age of students / grade


Additional Resources/material needed
Related ORBIT Wiki Resources
Files and resources to view and download

This resource was adapted from resources and original ideas contributed by Paul Warwick, at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.