2018 · June · Life · Summer of Fun

Summer of Fun – Day 2 – Building Bridges

Hello and welcome back! I hope you enjoyed Day 1 of Summer of Fun. We certainly did and are super excited for today because we’re going to be exploring another building project – building bridges.

There are so many different types of bridges: arch, truss, beam, cantilever, suspension, and beyond. Each bridge has its own design and purpose, but what they all have in common is they must hold a certain amount of weight in order to be structurally sound and that’s where we’ve decided to place our focus. We are building bridges to see how much weight it will hold. We will be doing this by placing Matchbox cars on each bridge we build and then documenting how many cars each will hold. Sounds like fun, so let’s get started.

Here’s what we did:

  • grab whatever “building” materials are on hand
  • some sort of weights (cars, blocks, pencils, etc)
  • create

The building materials we used were: rope, twine, clothespins, popsicle sticks, burlap, straws, and wood shims. We also required two kitchen chairs and enough BIG books to create two equally tall stacks

Our first bridge, let’s call it The Wrap bridge (after all every bridge type has a name, right?), was built by tying two pieces of rope between two kitchen chairs, pulling them taut (backing the chairs up worked better than trying to get the rope tied tight enough) and then we wrapped the rope with the burlap. After we wrapped the burlap, we secured it to the ropes using clothespins so there wasn’t so much swag in the middle of the bridge. Then, we started piling on the cars. (I’m sure you’re dying to know how many cars this bridge held, but I’m going to make you wait 🙂 I suppose you could scroll to the bottom and see, but where’s the fun in that? ) As a matter of fact, let’s do this, as you read through and look at our designs, PICK the ONE you think will hold the most weight and then let me know which one you picked in the comments section below!! OH, THIS IS GONNA BE FUN!!!

The Wrap Bridge
How many did it hold?

#2 – the Clawfoot bridge, was built using only clothespins and wood shims (this is my design idea and I can honestly let you know, I should not be building bridges for a living.  HAHAHA)

I took popsicle sticks and clothespinned them in a ‘v’ shape, then adding two clothespins on the ends for stability, (stability, HA!!!) and placed a shim across the top. I’m sure if I had created more than one and had connected them together somehow, this would have totally worked 🙂

The Clawfoot

#3 – The Straw, was so much fun. We grabbed several heavy books, divided them into two equal stacks and then wrapped several pieces of twine around them going from one set of books to the other. We then laid straws across the twine using clothespins to keep them from all rolling toward the middle (we struggled with sag). So far, this one looks the most promising.

The Straw

#4 – The Stand-Up bridge, was a take on my design from earlier. My son wanted to know if there was a way to make that design work if he tweaked it a bit. He took four clothespins and placed popsicle sticks in them so they were sideways, not flat. Then he put the shims on top of that and voila’ a Stand-Up bridge

The Stand-Up


#5 – The HandRail, used the same set up as the straw bridge. We placed popsicle sticks between the outer and inner ropes. The popsicle sticks were laying on top of the middle two pieces of the rope while the other two outer most pieces of rope looked somewhat like handrails. This was my favorite design, it looked so cute, like a bridge you would find while walking in the woods.

Trying to get them even
God’s Smiled on this one
The Handrail

We’re getting close to knowing which design held the most weight! OH, the suspense is palpable!!

#6 – Our Final Bridge, The Wooden Footpath, was very similar to the Handrail, with the exception of where we laid the popsicle sticks. Remember for the Handrail we laid the popsicle sticks on only the middle two pieces of rope. Well for this bridge, we laid the popsicle sticks on top of all four pieces of rope instead of on only the middle two pieces. This was a fab looking bridge.

The Wooden Footpath

That’s it!! You’ve now seen all of our bridge designs. I’m curious, do you think you know which bridge held the most weight? Well, the wait is over, so let’s find out which bridge design was actually the most structurally sound.


Were you right? Did you guess that the Wooden Footpath bridge (#6) held the most weight? As you can see from the photo above, my son was determined to make this bridge collapse. He added, not only the cars but 1 peep, 100 clothespins, and 3 springs. Guess what? IT STILL DID NOT COLLAPSE!!! It took one of us loosening the ropes for it to finally collapse and let me tell you WHAT A MESS!!! But oh what fun!!

What 32 Matchbox cars, 100 clothespins, 3 springs and 1 peep look like after a bridge collapses

Well, we enjoyed all the bridge building and the conversations that went along with it. We learned a lot about structural stability and design, not to mention we also learned problem-solving skills and how to stick with something until you get it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit here with me today and that tomorrow you’ll pop back in for our next adventure – a Free Day!

I do hope you’ll let me know in the comments whether you were right about which bridge would hold the most weight and I hope you didn’t cheat and sneak a peek before you guessed!! 🙂

See you tomorrow!

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