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Bridge Building - trinalin thinks things through
trinalin
trinalin
Bridge Building
When one teaches seniors, one must realize that there are times when seniors have other things on their minds... Often called "Senioritis," the times when this occurs most strongly is right before Christmas break and right before school is out. So, what does one do with seniors when they're antsy and don't feel like studying? Have 'em build toothpick bridges, that's what!

I added the Toothpick Bridge competition to my repertoire of engineering projects (which includes catapult building, come-back cans, and egg drop platforms or carriages) several years ago when I got a example lab on it. When I first assigned it, it was an out of class assignment to be done individually or in pairs. (Several of the engineering projects that I assign are like this.) But a few years ago, I was over a week ahead of my usual schedule when the Christmas season was fast approaching. And we'd just finished solids (including stress, strain, scaling, and support). So rather than move onto thermogoddamnits, I thought about having the kids build the bridges in class, in their lab groups (most groups of 3 kids). This has now become the tradition.

Today, the physics students began building their bridges. They're still optimistic about things and have good physics plans. But as the week continues, they'll learn to LOATHE toothpicks and glue. And then they reach the stage where they're experts at having the toothpicks and glue do as they wish. We listen to Christmas music while they work and I can usually get some grading done. (Which is good - I need to grade their catapult research papers and reports.) But the best thing is testing them when we get back from Christmas break. The students are always amazed at how well their bridges actually do perform. It'll be interesting to see which lab group wins this competition. (So far, no group has won more than one engineering contest this year - pretty evenly matched class.)

Current Mood: calm calm
Current Music: "Scene: The Magic Spell Begins" by Tchaikovsky

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