SCC students build bridges

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 2, 2013

The assignment for the St. Charles Catholic High School physics students, in teams of three, was to design and build a bridge and use pennies to test the strength in the time allowed. The materials were strands of uncooked spaghetti and various size marshmallows. The results were mixed. Spaghetti strands broke. Marshmallows lost their shape. In the end, some really great bridges were created.

The students in Shawn Madere’s physics class studied and researched bridge design and construction. Using strands of uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, students experimented with different bridge structures to determine which ones were able to handle the greatest load of pennies.

This project helped the students to further understand the effects that compression and tension forces have with respect to the strength of bridges. Spaghetti cannot hold much tension or compression; therefore, it breaks very easily. Marshmallows handle compression

well, but do not hold up to tension. The goal was to expose the students to science, technology, engineering and math concepts, as well as teamwork, design, testing and problem solving.

Madere uses “The Modeling Method of High School Physics Instruction” in order to use guided inquiry in science teaching. His project-based lessons are fully aligned with National Science Education Standards.