Review by Sol Joye, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2013
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Bridge Constructor

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Bridge-building game could use more depth and character

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Easy set-up and simple game mechanics, good for young and old.

Cons: No explanation or hints to help understand physics, and a limited number of construction materials.

Bottom Line: Given the cost, relatively limited experience, and lack of innovation, it's tough to recommend Bridge Constructor over other standouts in the genre.

Bridge Constructor isn't going to do much on its own, but with some curricular support it could serve as a good discussion starter. Get students playing the game individually or in groups of up to three. Try to keep everyone focused on the same levels, and pause play frequently to have students share different building methods and what they have found to work well versus what does not. Prompt kids so they start thinking about why certain designs work, and use those discussions to start making connections to physics concepts and engineering techniques. Framed in this way, Bridge Constructor will get students to apply their knowledge of basic geometric shapes and their strengths and weaknesses through engineering.

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A devastating hurricane has destroyed all of the bridges on the island nation of Camatuga, and it's up to the player to fix them. Players construct bridges using a variety of materials, from wood and concrete to wire cable, while trying to stay under budget. Construction is viewed from the side of the bridge, and involves placing various support structures together, trying to build a strong frame that will bear weight evenly. Once finished, bridges get put to the test. This supenseful moment -- where vehicles pass over the bridge, or crash -- is perhaps the best part of the game. It's a familiar type of game, and offers some interesting options when working with different materials and in budget, but it doesn't have the problem-solving charm of something like World of Goo.

With more in-game explanations and hints illuminating the physics behind successful bridge building, Bridge Constructor could be great for learning. But as it stands, teachers need to fill in the blanks. Given what's in the game now, students will intuit some physics and engineering concepts, but they aren't prompted to do much analysis or in-depth puzzle solving. They'll most likely rely on trial-and-error solutions, drawing on a relatively small set of tools and materials. This means the puzzles become repetitive, and since the instructional support is lacking, it's tough for students to develop a sound understanding of the concepts at play.

Overall Rating

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

While initially engaging, the limited depth and variety means kids won't be as involved in this game as they are in similar physics puzzlers.

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

There's some conceptual physics learning to be had, but kids won't know exactly what they're learning without help.

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

Solutions rely heavily on trial-and-error learning, which works for some, but others may fall into bad habits or get frustrated.

Common Sense Reviewer
Sol Joye Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Darren D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cottonwood Creek Elementary School
Englewood, United States
Simple Game with Limited Educational Value
Bridge Constructor is a simple way for students to engineer a bridge and learn some budget skills in order to open levels in the game. The downloaded version for Windows can be easily installed allowing students to practice some basic skills. However, as previously stated, students become disengaged and the program has limited learning opportunities. It would be nice if the program explains the components of bridges and why certain designs work better than others.
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