Make a Suspension Bridge

Students learn about tension, compression, torsion and shear by making a suspension bridge model - available to subscribers of The PrintLab Classroom

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Lesson Overview

In this hands-on project, students will learn about tension, compression, torsion and shear by making a suspension bridge model. Working in teams and guided by a workbook, students will be provided with an overview of suspension bridges before being challenged to design various components in Tinkercad software. Once 3D printed, the suspension bridge model is assembled and experiments take place to analyse the forces that act upon it.

Subject Areas

The lesson can be incorporated into the study of maths, physics, design technology and computing. The material can be adapted for ages 10-16. The curriculum is aligned to NGSS, CCSS and UK National Curriculum standards. A comprehensive list of standards met is included in the lesson platform.

In this project students will:

  • Develop an understanding of suspension bridges and their structural components

  • Use CAD software to design and 3D print components for a suspension bridge model

  • Use craft techniques to build a suspension bridge model

        • Conduct experiments to develop an understanding of how tension, compression, torsion and shear act on suspension bridges

        • Use knowledge gained from making their model, together with research techniques, to suggest relevant improvements to their initial design

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