A Bridge to Nowhere

based on 9 ratings
Author: Nancy Rogers Bosse

2nd – 4th grades 

Difficulty of Project

Less than $5.00 

Safety Issues
Material Availability
Readily available 
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

One to two hours to experiment with the construction of the bridge; one day to prepare the science fair display 


To create a bridge between two chairs using books 

Materials and Equipment

  • 2 matching chairs
  • 20 hardback books (approximately 8 ½ x 11-inches)
  • Measuring tape

Background Information

All bridges have a center of gravity. The center of gravity helps the bridge to be balanced and stable. The center of gravity is easy to locate when an object is symmetrical. 

In this investigation, the center of gravity is explored. 

Terms, Concepts, and Questions to Start Background Research


center of gravity: the average location of weight of an object 

span: the distance between the two ends of a bridge 

compression: a force that works to shorten or reduce in length 

tension: a force that works to lengthen  


The center of gravity aids in the stability of a bridge.  

Research Questions
  • How can you build a bridge between two chairs with books?
  • How does the center of gravity help balance and support a bridge?
  • What other factors are important in building a bridge? 

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Set the chairs facing each other about one foot apart.
  3. Place one book on each seat so that the spine hangs over about one inch. Continue placing books on top of each other staggering them each about one inch until the books meet in the center.
  4. Experiment with how far apart you can put the chairs and still create a bridge with the books. Record the results.
  5. Experiment with how few books you can use to make a bridge connect the chairs when they are one foot apart. Record the results. 



“How Bridges Work” by Michael Morrissey at 

“Geometry of Bridge Construction” at 

“Bridge Technology” at 


“Building Big Bridges” at


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