The bridge project was an assignment completed by the STARS students during the summer 2016 session. The project served several purposes. First, it emphasized the importance of working together as a team; secondly, it showed how communication and asking for assistance helped the results; and lastly, it focused on developing the students’ deep understandings of mathematical concepts, proficiency with key skills, and ability to solve complex and novel problems. The project is based on the premise that you can go anywhere with math. The students worked together to create a bridge using the online calculator, Desmos.com. They used mathematical formulas learned over the summer and some they had researched on their own, to create fascinating bridges.
Students learned there are two kinds of arches in a bridge: tension and compression. Tension arches are typically seen in suspension bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge where two main cables form the arch shape. The vertical deck load carried by the structure is transferred to a tensile force in the cable. Compression arches are typically seen in truss bridges where steel or concrete form the arch shape. Similarly, the vertical deck load carried by the structure is transferred to a compressive force in the steel or concrete.
The general mathematical formula that determines the shape of both the tension and compression arches is parabolic, meaning the formula has the typical form: y = k* x ^2.
The Bridges blend direct instruction, structured investigation, and open exploration. It taps into the intelligence and strengths of all students by presenting material that is as linguistically, visually, and kinesthetically rich as it is mathematically powerful.
Read more about the STARS and STRIPES program.