img_6562Science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and math.  Is it possible to cluster all those around one project?  Yes! Here is one we visited last Friday.


We read the book 21 Elephants and Still Standing by April Jones PrinceIt is a true story about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and how P.T. Barnum marched his elephants across town and across the bridge to prove its strength to naysayers.  The students were entranced by it.

Then we made our own bridges, using gum drops and toothpicks.  They tested their designs by placing Chunky Monkey on the bridge to discover if the bridge could hold him. (Okay, toy elephants would have been better, but we used what was on hand!)

The room was abuzz with purpose.


There were some floppy bridges at first, but that only meant starting again.  They did a bit of research, looking at support systems pictured in our books about bridges.  Then back to the drawing board they went.  Most enjoyed the success of seeing Chunky Monkey sitting pert on their structures!

This was an easy way to dig into learning on a Friday afternoon.  We spent about an hour on it, but we could have used more time for students who were finishing up their second or third design.  Students who succeeded early in holding up Chunky Monkey took on the challenge of making their bridges longer by crossing the basket lengthwise.  This proved to be difficult!  Other students, after a successful Chunky Monkey test, simply added height and beauty to their bridge.

Later in the year we will revisit bridges as a weeks-long theme.  The enthusiasm from this little project will flare up and we will be off and running!