Week 1

Session 2

Guiding Question

  • How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


  • How do the four major types of bridges work differently?

  • When would a bridge designer want to use each type of bridge?


  • Students will present differences of how a bridge works for four major types of bridges.

CT Components

Data collection

  • Students will gather information on four types of bridges and what their uses are.


  • Students will make a presentation to the class.

Simulation & Modeling

  • Students will understand four different types of bridge through hands-on simulation activities.

Bridge-Type Rotation Stations

Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry (60 minutes)

Let's do this activity in groups. There are 4 stations/simulations in this activity – one for each of the four bridge types. Each station/simulation will spend approximately 15 minutes to simulate how different types of bridges function. Each student should participate in all four simulations, and must record detailed observations in their notebooks – how does each type of bridge work, and what is the best use for that bridge type? What are some risks or benefits of that type of construction?

The teacher is the timekeeper, monitoring student efforts and alerting when it is approaching time for station rotations. The teacher needs to guide students to think about how to record their observations after each simulation and after the first two rotations have been completed (approximately 30 minutes).

The directions for each station are provided below. The teacher prints the directions and includes them at each station for the students to use. There should be four stations for each bridge-type.

Each station should be tested before the session by the teacher to determine appropriateness for students. The Cable Station, in particular, requires careful, considerate student interaction.

Facilitation Suggestions

At each station: at least 10 books (phone books are great) of similar size.

For each of the following resources, having a variety of sizes and lengths will improve the variety of student experimentation. Teachers should use discretion and test each station to determine the optimal size and effort for students.

At each of the four stations, the teacher needs to take the opportunity to facilitate student learning so that the station activities/simulations are both hands-on and mind-on activities. Some questions the teacher can ask are:

1. How does this type of bridge work?

2. Why would an engineer choose to create this type of bridge?

The Cooperative Learning and Teamwork Rubric is a tool for teachers to use to guide team work.


10 minutes

After completing each of the four stations, the teacher determines which stations will be presented by which groups. One method of selection is by student choice or request; another method is to have group present on the bridge station they visited last. Regardless of the motivation for selection, each student will seek to answer these three questions, as a group:

1. How does this type of bridge work?

2. Why would an engineer choose to create this type of bridge?

3. What are some famous bridges of this style that exist in the world?

After a few minutes of preparation, each student will speak to the group. Other students may offer their observations or questions after each students' presentation.

End of Session Reflection and Debriefing

5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

  • What did I learn today?

  • What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

  • How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?