Introduction to Engineering: Toothpick Bridges

Design, Engage, Introduction to Engineering

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This week, in our introduction to engineering class, we began the design of our toothpick bridges.  Students were paired up and given a set of design constraints, materials, and a set of design requirements for their bridge.

Bridge Requirements:

  • Must span 12 inches
  • Must support at least 5 pounds of weight
  • Must use only whole toothpicks, can not cut or break them.
  • Bridge must be at least 2 toothpicks wides.

Materials :

  • 1 box of Flat Toothpicks (750)
  • Glue and paintbrush
  • Graph Paper
  • Wax Paper
  • Masking Tape (To hold down wax paper)

Using a sheet of 11×17 graph paper, the pairs sketched out a design of a bridge. Once their bridge span was designed, they laid down a sheet of wax paper and began connecting toothpicks to match the design, using glue to adhere the joints.

Most groups only completed the design in the first class period and will get started on the construction at the beginning of the next class.  About half of the groups had a chance to get started on their constructions but did not get too far.  Next week, we will continue constructing and testing our toothpick bridges to support the required 5 pounds.

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