Week 6

Session 2

Guiding Question

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


  • How can we design and construct a bridge over the Boise River to resist an earthquake?


  • Think through the process of designing and building a bridge to resist earthquakes.

CT Components


  • Students will build a bridge to satisfy requirements by trial and error

Conditional Logic

  • Students will apply logic learned regarding shapes and bridges in designing the bridge


  • Students will keep a journal and make a presentation to the class

Entry Event

10 minutes

The teacher starts the session by saying that the students will be participating in a design competition starting this session and it will last until the last session of this project. The design challenge involves the design of a bridge across the Boise River that they discussed last week. Their knowledge from last week will come in handy during this competition.


This activity will be done in two parts. In part 1 students plan, design and sketch. In part 2 they build and test. They will have more chance to fix their designs and retest to complete the competition.

Final Design Challenge

This challenge is intended to help students learn and develop and range of key skills including, communication, planning, team building, and problem-solving, as they work on a design project in which they take a product (a bridge) from the design phase through to its final construction and testing. Their bridge must meet cost and time parameters laid down in the specifications. The team that can design and successfully construct a bridge that meets the design specifications at the lowest cost will win the challenge!

Design Specifications

1. The bridge should consist of two towers connected by a pedestrian walkway

2. Each of the towers should be on either side of the Boise River. Assume the Boise River is 2 ft wide!

3. The bridge deck should be 1.5ft from the water.

Step 1

Loading Requirement

The completed bridge must be capable of supporting a load of 2 kg weight placed anywhere on the bridge deck; the bridge must remain level when loaded.

Step 2

Earthquake Performance

The completed bridge should be stable against earthquake and the Table below provides an explanation of the bridge performance criteria after the earthquake.

Bridge should get OK or Caution remark to move to the next stage

Step 3

Reloading Requirement: The bridge will be loaded after the earthquake event and it should be able to support 1.5kg weight placed anywhere on the bridge deck.

Designing, Planning, Preparation of Plans, and Allocation of Roles

Part 1 (60 minutes)

What to do first (20 minutes)

Review the design competition details for the bridge and the rules of the competition.

Make sure that all members of your team understand what has to be accomplished and the rules of the competition. If unsure, ask your teacher to explain.

Good planning is the key to any successful project. During this phase, it is up to your team to look at the resources available – human as well as material – and to plan how best they can be utilized to complete tasks within the time available.

What to do next (40 minutes)

As a team, decide what type of bridge will meet the design specification.

Brainstorm ideas:

  • Use a flip chart (if available) or a large piece of paper to write down everyone’s ideas before discussing them one by one.

  • Every person on the team has a valid contribution to make and every idea should be evaluated on its merits.

  • Remember to check with the job specifications to make sure your ideas keep on track.

Finalize the decision about the bridge type you will design.

Assign tasks to team members.

Produce plan drawings (front, side and top elevations).

Decide how the bridge will be constructed.

Produce estimates for the K’NEX building materials.

Present the bridge design/sketch for the project to your teacher before the end of this session.

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?