TAD STEM class builds sturdy cardboard, tape bridge

Published 9:32 am Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photo by Brandon Hicks For more photos visit www.elizabethton.com

What does it take to build a bridge?
For a group of T.A. Dugger Junior High School students, some cardboard and tape was all that was needed.
Students in Doug Mitchell’s science, technology, engineering and math class wrapped up a study on structures by building their own bridge. The goal was to build a bridge from cardboard supported by tape that would support at least 200 pounds.
To build that bridge, the students were divided into teams of three to cut and measure the cardboard into the right dimensions needed for the bridge. Then they assembled those components together into the smaller sections of the bridge. After that, selected team members worked together to put the final bridge structure together.
From there, it was time test if the bridge was successful and would hold at least 200 pounds. Before the students put the bridge to the test, Mitchell tried it out himself.
“I stood on the bridge supports, and they held me,” he said.
On Monday afternoon, one of Mitchell’s STEM classes tested out the bridge for themselves.
Eighth-grader Mary Weddle made it across the bridge with ease.
“It looked stable,” Weddle said. “I looked like it would support me, and it did.”
Mitchell said engineering studies showed using geometric shapes in a structure made it stronger. For the bridge, the students made triangles that put together to form rectangles. The rectangles were then connected to form the bridge, that also rested on supports made of the same design.
The project will now be passed on TAD’s after-school ESP program, and Mitchell’s STEM classes next semester.
“The students really enjoyed this,” he said. “They had a great time making this.”

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