Lesson Plan

Exploring Physics Concepts Using Bridges

Students explore basic physics concepts through the study of bridges and bridge design.
Caitlin M.
Academic Technology Specialist
Harpeth Hall School
Nashville, TN
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My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, World Languages
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Students will be able to...

  • Define and identify the three major bridge types - arch, beam, and suspension.
  • Describe different load forces that affect bridge design.
  • Discuss the best type of material and design for bridges in a particular scenario.
Grades 6 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

From $220

Ask students what they know about bridges using the following questions:

  • How do you think bridges are designed and made?
  • Are there different types of bridges? Why do you think we need different designs?
  • What physical forces or other factors do you think need to be considered when designing a bridge?

Play this BrainPOP video on bridges to give an introduction to the topic.

2 Direct Instruction

The teacher creates screen cast recordings introducing basic concepts related to bridges and bridge design concepts. All videos are posted on class Haiku page for students to watch.

After watching screen cast recordings outside of class, overall concepts are reviewed and necessary concepts are reinforced using teacher lecture and Q&A in class.


Student Instructions

Students watch screen cast recordings outside of class and take notes using Microsoft OneNote. Students then come to class prepared with questions for the teacher and take additional notes using Microsoft OneNote.

3 Guided Practice - Library Centers

The teacher collaborates with the school librarian to create centers including:

  • Bridge Failures: Watching YouTube playlist with videos on famous bridge collapses (Tacoma Narrows, etc.)
  • Defining: Using Britannica School and a selection of print resources, students define key topics related to bridges and bridge design.
  • Exploring: The librarian creates a resource list of web links using school LibGuides.

The teacher will assign groups and create a schedule for rotating groups through each center.

Student Instructions

Students work in groups to rotate through each center. Students discuss guiding questions and take individual notes in Microsoft OneNote answering different guiding questions at each center including:

  • Bridge Failures: Why did this bridge fail? What were some design flaws? What are some possible design improvements?
  • Defining: What are the three major types of bridges? What is a beam bridge? What is a suspension bridge? What is an arch bridge?
  • Exploring: What type of bridge do you think is best? What are different load types to consider - both natural and man-made? What are different types of bridge construction materials?

4 Independent Practice - Bridge Research

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Britannica School
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Haiku Learning
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The teacher will assign students to pairs. The teacher will then assign each group a famous bridge to research, making sure at least all three major bridge types are covered.

Instructions and a rubric will be created by the teacher and distributed to students via class Haiku page to help guide research.

Student Instructions

Students will work in pairs using Britannica School, various electronic databases and print resources, and a librarian created LibGuides page to complete research on an assigned bridge. Notes will be collected in Microsoft OneNote and resources cited using EasyBib or NoodleTools.

5 Wrap-Up


Teacher creates a class VoiceThread for student pairs to add research.

Student Instructions

Students add slides to a class VoiceThread and present the information in class. Students then comment on different slides, reinforcing learned concepts.