Week 8

Session 1

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 constructing 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

5 minutes

This session is a continuation of the design challenge that started in Week 6 session 2. Students are asked to recollect their experience last week with bridge design and construction. Depending on what went wrong with their particular bridge, students are given 10 minutes to discuss what changes they think will result in a better bridge performance.

For teams whose bridges passed the required specifications, they are asked to check the economy of the bridge. Students go through the table below and estimate the total cost of their bridge. Then, they try and optimize their design to meet specifications for a lower cost bridge.

Redesigning, planning, preparation of plans and rebuilding

What to do first

10 minutes

Review the test results from the bridge testing

Review the design task challenge again understand 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 used to complete tasks within the time available.

Redesigning and Preparation of Plans

20 minutes

Brainstorm ideas to improve the design:

  • 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 design details to make sure your ideas keep on track.

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 for the project to your teacher before the end of this session.


20 minutes

Students can modify the bridges they built in the last session. If the bridge completely collapsed after the testing in the last session, they start from scratch. If not, they can just modify existing bridge. This will be the final design of the bridge that will be tested in the next session.

Cost Estimations

25 minutes

If the teams have completed their design, they will estimate the cost of their bridge by using the table (will be provided to students by teacher) provided. The lowest cost of the bridge that meets the design specifications wins! This cost estimation activity could be matched more closely to math curriculum.

Student Led Presentation

10 minutes

The students discuss their experiences and consider what are most important aspects of this process to share. This discussion should follow the individual group roles. The students discuss their decisions for how to best proceed with the bridge-building project with other groups. The teacher asks questions to clarify student choices and reasoning.

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?