Today marks my first day at the new job, teaching technology to tenth graders in Baltimore City Public Schools. I have three class periods in the morning, and am done for the day by noon, which gives me plenty of time for graduate schoolwork and writing to you!
In class this week, we are finishing up a project assigned by the previous teacher using West Point Bridge Builder. This program is available free for download for educational purposes, and essentially allows students to experiment with constructing bridges. After a quick review of important vocabulary such as joints, suspension, piers, etc., students hopped on the programs to construct bridges. Their goal, along with completing project requirements, is to try to create the least expensive workable bridge at 24m.
Bridge Builder is relatively easy to use, but does require some exploration to understand the nuances of the program. West Point provides a bare bones tutorial, but be prepared for some students to be frustrated when they are unable to get their bridges to work. Essentially, students use templates or work freehand to construct bridges, and then test their program by running a demo with a truck on their bridge. If the truck crosses without the bridge collapsing, their bridges are a success!
Check out some screenshots of the program below, and happy bridge building!