I’ve got a fun building bridges STEM Challenge for you to try today. Engineers have to think about many, many things when they design bridges. They have to choose a strong material that is weather resistant. The materials also need to be shaped in a way that makes them extra strong. We’ve learned about dome shapes being strong shapes using eggshells to make a bridge before too!
If you tried our strong shapes challenge, you’ll know that paper can be strong if folded in a certain way. In this activity, you’re going to fold paper differently to make mini bridges and test how much weight each can hold.
Bridge Building Materials
3 sheets of paper
Books or wooden blocks
Toys or coins to put on top
Fold the first piece of paper in thirds and secure each end with tape.
Fold the second piece of paper into quarters and secure each end with tape.
Concertina or zig-zag fold the third piece of paper.
Build up the blocks so they form two ends of a bridge and place the paper bridges on top.
Slowly place coins or small toys ( in the same order ) onto each bridge and record how many each section can hold before collapsing.
We found our zig zag-shaped bridge was the strongest and the paper folded into thirds the weakest.
The flat pieces of paper bent very easily, especially those with fewer folds. Folding or rolling paper makes it much stronger.
Bridge Building Extension Task
Instead of folding paper differently, try making bridges from different materials. Try card, kitchen foil, bubble wrap etc.
Last Updated on April 21, 2023 by Emma Vanstone