www.whyville.net Aug 15, 2004 Weekly Issue

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A Bridge Made Out of Popsicle Sticks

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Purpose: The purpose of making a bridge out of popsicle sticks is pretty simple. As we humans like to experiment with structures made with different materials, I decided to experiment with making a certain structure with Popsicle sticks and see if it can withstand certain weights. I needed to make a bridge that would be safe, stable and structural. Now, let's begin.

Hypothesis: My hypothesis is to make a certain type of bridge that withstands certain weights but can be safe, stable, has a structural design, and is fun to go over!

Materials: The materials I used were everyday items. The two main materials I used were popsicle sticks and a hot glue gun. Other materials I used were a marker, wooden board, ruler and books. Throughout the making of my model I used most of these items.

Procedure: For my procedure, I had to follow a certain type of schedule during the finding, exploring and testing to finish up with an amazing bridge.

The first line of duty was to have an idea. I pretty much knew what I was going to do, but I needed blueprints. Once I had my blueprints, I retrieved my materials and made the main model.

The next thing I did was search the Internet, to see if there were different yet safe ways for improving my model. Once I found them, I improved my model. When it was time for the prototype, I was sure it could withstand something as heavy as 45 pounds. I tested my bridge quite a lot, over the course of 5-7 days. I got two 5 lb books, one 6 lb book and one 8 lb binder with paper, little books, etc. So the total weight was 24 lbs. I left that on top of the bridge for four days.

It held the weight evenly and still looked like new. So I added another 2 lbs and I left that on until Saturday. I took everything off and it still looked good. Making this bridge was like making a paper airplane with no instructions, because I had to make the instructions myself. All that work and out came a wonderful yet safe product. Of course, a bridge made out of popsicle sticks would never work in real life!

Future Decisions: Next time, I would probably make my bridge more stable so that it would not move or wiggle. For my next challenge, instead of using popsicle sticks, I would use straws, but other than that I thought it was fun and creative.

Observations: For my observations, I noticed that if I added the weight in the center, there would be less pressure on one side and the dead load was evenly distributed throughout. There was only compression on the bride not both tension and compression. (Wonder what that means? I'll bet you can look it up online! :)

I also noticed that the trusses not only went one way, but if one row was opposite of another, the pressure would get spread out.

Conclusion: Throughout my making of my bridge, I noticed that to make something well you need to plan everything. Even though it may not be foolproof, a plan can tell you where you went wrong and how to fix your mistake(s) afterward. It can also tell you if something like a pattern does not match.

After making this one bridge, I also understand why it takes longer for bridges to be made. To make a bridge you need to have precision yet remembering you want it to be strong, unique, and safe. Overall, I had fun! And thought it was well!


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