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Build a Popsicle Stick Bridge

Third Grade Physical Science Activities: Build a Popsicle Stick Bridge

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See more activities in: Third Grade, Physical Science

A bridge is a structure built to span a body of water or other physical obstacle. Designs and materials vary, depending on the purpose of the bridge and the setting that it's in. If your child could design her own bridge, what would it look like? Inspire her to put on an engineer hat for the day, as she constructs her very own, double-decker bridge out of popsicle sticks.

What You Need:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • All-purpose glue or wood glue
  • Invisible tape
  • Construction paper

What You Do:

  1. Have a discussion with your child about different types of bridges, and explain that a double-decker bridge has two levels. Look online together at pictures of double-decker bridges.
  2. Help her construct the sides of the bridge first. Have her lay down three popsicle sticks, end-to-end.
  3. Then, she should glue two popsicle sticks end-to-end, on top, so that they overlap the bottom three sticks.
  4. Now, help her break one stick in half to glue over the ends of the bottom sticks.
  5. Have her repeat steps 3 and 4, three more times (creating a total of 4 bridge sides).
  6. Next, she'll glue the supporting beams. Her beams can be straight up-and-down, or triangles, as shown in the photograph. Have her glue beam sticks to the top and bottom of two bridge sides (using eight popsicle sticks for up-and-down beams as shown below).
  7. Have her repeat step six, with eight more popsicle sticks for two other sides of her bridge. (More sticks will be used if she decides to make triangle beams.)
  8. Now, she’ll make two bridge decks. Have her glue popsicle sticks across the bottom of two bridge sides, and over the tops of bridge sides.
  9. She can also cut construction paper into rectangular bridge “roads” to glue or tape onto bridge decks.
  10. For additional math, have her estimate how much weight her bridge will hold, and carefully test out various weights!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

Updated on Dec 3, 2012
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See more activities in: Third Grade, Physical Science
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