Week 2

Session 1

Guiding Question

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


  • How do I design a bridge and what needs to be considered when designing a bridge?

  • What forces affect a bridge’s strength?


  • Students present their research related to how bridges work and how they are built.

CT Components

Simulation & Modeling

  • Students will understand how bridges work by playing a simulation game

Data Collection

  • Students will gather information on how bridges work and how they are built.

Entry Event

5 minutes

A teacher begins the session by asking “What are the four major types of bridges?” PAUSEs, allow the learners to share their recollections. The teacher should review the four types of bridges: Arch, Beam, Cable, and Suspension and then asks “How do engineers design bridges?” PAUSEs for students responses and opinions, before showing a video about a bridge engineer who explains the basics of bridge design: How to Build a Durable Bridge PAUSEs and asks “What are some of the decisions that you think are important for bridge design?” Teacher encourages students to use the scientific vocabulary in their responses.

Teacher Models Bridge Building Interactive Media

10 minutes (Use computer lab if WiFi is poor)

The teacher introduces an educational simulator, Bridge-Builder (This site is blocked by Boise School District for the students' account. However the teacher's account can access the site. It is recommended that the teacher log the students in with the teachers' account ahead of time for each student). This game has different levels that require the user to build a bridge, using “lines” and “cables” and a set a budget that varies at each level. A truck needs to cross the bridge, therefore, the user’s design must be able to hold the truck as it crosses a divide.

The teacher needs to prepare for this simulation by experiencing the simulation before this session. The teacher demonstrates how to design a bridge for the first three levels (Possible solutions for the first three levels are included below). Once the students are assembled around the teacher’s computer screen, the teacher demonstrates how bridges are built. At the teacher's discretion, the students may offer suggestions to the bridge’s design. Some basic procedures include:

  • The game should be played on “full screen” (the option is in the bottom right corner)

  • In the game, “Lines” cost $200 per small grid box ($1,000 for a large grid box), and can stretch up to 5 small gridlines per line

  • “Cables” cost $100 per small grid box ($500 for a large grid box), and can stretch up to 14 small gridlines per cable

  • Options to add lines and cables, delete these items, move around the screen, undo a purchase, and recycle the entire current bridge project are in the right sidebar

  • Options to move the screen’s focus, zoom in, zoom out are in the bottom right bar

The sound effects and music can be very distracting, and muting play is encouraged

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Students Simulation of Bridge Building Interactive Media

15 minutes

The teacher guides the students to consider the process for building a bridge in the real world. Unlike the simulation, there may be many factors that can affect a bridge’s strength and performance. To learn more about the foundations of a strong bridge, the students independently research the bridge design considerations and take notes in their notebooks including important considerations of bridge building. Given the direction to visit at least three resources and record findings of the research, the students work in small group of 2 or 3 to research the design considerations engineers take before constructing their bridges. Please direct students to use Week 2 Worksheet to guide their inquiry.


Students Presentation

10 minutes

Students will present their research related to how bridges work and how they are built based on the set of questions and resources they researched.

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?