Week 3

Session 2

Guiding Question

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


  • What are the damages of an earthquake?


  • An oral presentation, with a poster for visual display, on the damages of an earthquake

CT Components


  • Students will learn how a bridge resists forces by studying the different shapes and their load carrying capacities


  • Students will collect information on shapes and try to understand how they contribute to overall bridge designs


  • Students will keep journal and make presentation to the class

Entry Event

5 minutes

A teacher asks “What knowledge must a bridge engineer have to be successful?” PAUSEs, allowing the learners to share ideas, reflect on their journal observations from the previous weeks. The teacher offers suggestions. “How can someone become a bridge designer?” PAUSEs for responses and compares learner opinions. “What STEM knowledge is essential for a bridge engineer to know?” The teacher previews a video the learners will watch that shows a bridge engineer discussing how to structure and design a strong bridge. The teacher plays the video and instructs the learners to make notes in their journals of what a bridge designer needs to know to be successful. After watching the video, the teacher informs the learners that they will have the opportunity to design and build their own bridge using K’NEX pieces.

Sketch a Bridge Model

15 minutes

After watching the video, students will begin their sketch of a bridge at his/her choice. The teacher directs the students, “It is your turn to design a bridge based off of the information you have gained from the previous sessions. Just like an engineer, you will sketch a drawing of the bridge you plan to design on the supplied draft paper. I have left the K'Nex rods for you to observe, since these are the supplies you will be using to build with. You may design any bridge you would like based on your research in the previous lessons. Experiment with shapes and sizes. You have fifteen minutes to design and sketch your bridge before we share our designs with each other. Any questions?” Teacher PAUSEs for questions and let the students begins.

Students Presentations

10 minutes

Suggested approach: Half of the students hang their drawings up or display them in any way, and present their drawings to the remaining students. Students describe the choices they made within their designs to their peers. After 5 minutes, the two groups of students switch roles with the original presenters becoming the audience and the other half presenters. The students will vote for the best three designs and then build the bridges according to the design they chose in small groups.

Build a Bridge and Test It

45 minutes

The students work in a small group (2-3 individuals) to build their bridge based on the design/sketch they chose. The teacher is the timekeeper, monitoring student efforts and alerting them be mindful of the design requirements (according to the sketch). The teacher needs to encourage students to think about how to work in teams. After completing the building, the students will use books or weights to test their bridges. In the last 5 minutes, the students clean their work stations of K’NEX materials and get ready to share their bridges.


  • A K'NEX Set

  • Books

  • Weights

  • Ruler

  • Safety Goggles

  • Optional: Internet access to search for additional, relevant information.

  • 1-2 pieces of draft paper for each student

  • Pencils

  • 15 K’NEX Rods of any length from the Real Bridge Building set

  • 15 K’NEX Connectors of any color from the Real Bridge Building set

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?