Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2014
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Bridge Constructor FREE

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Fun challenge for budding engineers; potentially frustrating for others

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)

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Pros: Kids with prior knowledge of physics or engineering will enjoy the challenge of building bridges through trial and error.

Cons: No physics background is provided to help kids understand what they're doing.

Bottom Line: Eight levels are available for free, so the app might be worth a shot for kids with background or interest in physics and/or structural engineering.

Bridge Constructor has its limits, but it could be fun to use as a project-based learning tool. As part of a physics unit, kids could work in small groups on such structural engineering projects as building an earthquake-proof building. Set aside some time during the planning stages of the project for kids to play Bridge Constructor in small groups, then come together as a class and discuss which strategies worked and which failed.  

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Kids are given the task of rebuilding bridges that were destroyed during a storm, using such materials as wood, steel, concrete pillars, and cables. The first level starts with just wood, and more materials are unlocked as kids complete additional levels. As kids drag materials from point to point to build a bridge, they must stay within a given budget. When construction is complete, they put their efforts to the test by driving a car across the bridge (trucks earn extra points). If the vehicle crosses successfully, kids earn points and move to the next level; if the vehicle crashes, they can try again. In this free version of the game, there are eight levels, full-screen ads pop up often, and kids have to pay to access reliable hints. Forty levels are available in the paid, ad-free version.   

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Bridge Constructor is a fun concept that can teach kids how to solve problems through trial and error. The game has educational intent, and kids with some background in physics or structural engineering could apply what they know and challenge themselves with this puzzler. Without instructional guidance and useful hints, however, many kids will be lost and unable to make the connection between building bridges and applying physics content. The game, therefore, is best for kids who have prior knowledge and want to put their engineering skills to the test. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The challenge of building bridges is initially engaging, but without more instructional guidance and hints, kids could lose interest quickly.  

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids can learn some engineering principles through trial and error, and challenges get more difficult as the game progresses; however, activities lack a connection to concrete physics concepts. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Kids get brief, basic instructions for each new level, but learning support is not integrated into the game. 


Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Nathan P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Great way to introduce engineering, science, and math concepts.

Overall, it is a fun, neat way for students to start to see concepts of bridges, and engineering, at work. I like that it has different levels of strength (cars vs trucks) for the students to test their bridges. The students are able to work through try and revise strategies until they are successful. There are also some basic (real basic) tips for the students, as well as hints they can purchase with coins that they earn as they go. The learning is provided by the students through them working through the different levels and taking the ideas they learned with them to the next level. There is little to no learning provided by the app itself.

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