The 5th graders have been building bridges both literally and figuratively since returning to school in the new year.
In science, students have been investigating different types of bridges through a variety of hands-on experiments and virtual projects. To start the unit, students were given a challenge to create a bridge out of two pieces of paper that could hold the most pennies. Since learning from our mistakes and prototypes is an essential part of the engineering design process, after his/her bridge collapsed, each student was given an opportunity to assess and redesign the bridge. While everyone was successful, one bridge held weight equivalent to over 500 pennies!
After learning about different types of bridges, students also tackled the issue of materials. What material makes the strongest bridge? Based on results from various students, we determined that, overall, paper was the strongest; however, tinfoil was very successful for some individuals as well.
Students have also been investigating what shapes are the strongest. Using plastic beams, screws, and bolts, they have created triangles, squares, pentagons, and more. Each shape was tested for stability and strengthened by adding more beams.
All of these experiments and activities have led up to students building their own bridges. Through the engineering process, they have discovered what shapes, materials, and types of bridges are the most successful. In small groups, they have learned about compression, tension, and deflection. The culmination of these few weeks of work will be designing a bridge using beams, screws, bolts, and wire that can hold the most weight.
In religion, students are encouraged to build figurative bridges through the connections that they make with their classmates. One the first topics covered is getting the students to understand that although everyone in the room may not be Catholic there is still a lot in the Catholic Faith that we can all agree upon, for example, The 10 Commandments. If you are Catholic and go to church you have no doubt learned about The 10 Commandments. However, even if you are not Catholic, you probably unknowingly have been following some of them. Love your mom and dad, do not take what is not yours, and love your husband/wife are all commandments.
Students have all agreed in our discussions that these are things that all people despite their religious background can believe in should abide by. By agreeing to examples such as this, we can see how we can build bridges by making one another feel important, equal, and loved despite what we believe in. One student in the room may be Catholic, one may be Jewish, and one may be non-denominational, and despite these different religious beliefs that separate us in some capacity we can all agree that we should love our mom and we can all agree that we should never steal or take something that is not ours. When we agree on these different topics in essence we are building bridges in class because we realize that we as human beings have more similarities than differences in what we believe it takes to be a good person. When we realize this we are making connections and building bridges with each other.