Bridges STEM Challenge

Welcome back to Community STEM and our next big STEM challenge. Who isn’t fascinated with bridges? I remember driving across bridges and holding my breath. I always wanted my dad to stop at the end of it so we could get out and look. I still have that fascination today.

This STEM lab will encourage students to work in teams to design and build a bridge and tower together. Bridges are everywhere and serve many different purposes. Without them, we would not be able to travel over water of any kind. They can be as simple as a fallen tree across a small creek and as complex as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, that spans 1.7 miles from brace to brace. Bridges may look very different, but their structural parts are similar. In this STEM Challenge- we are encouraging you to research the structural parts of a bridge and build a prototype out of household materials.

Bridges Building CHALLENGE:

Design a prototype out of household materials using the following guidelines:

  • Design and build a bridge that will hold a tower.
    • The bridge must span an opening of 30 cm and must be at least 15 cm wide. It does not need support legs. It does not need to be movable. It will be tested by having a tower placed on it.
  • Design and build a tower that will be part of a bridge.
    • The tower must be at least 30 cm tall and its base cannot be wider than 15 cm. The base must be a geometric shape or have support legs. It must stand freely and be movable. It will be placed on a bridge to test its ability to stand.

NOTE: Math teachers can jump in on the fun by giving monetary value to the materials, set limits on how much they can spend, and walk students through a budget.

Bridges and Tower Video Introduction by Wendy Norton, DEN Star from Florida.

Discovery Education Digital Media:

Virtual Field Trips:


  • Structural Engineer
  • Transportation Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Structural Design Engineer
  • Project Manager

(NEW) Literacy Connections:

  • Bridges: The science and art of the world’s most inspiring structures by David Blockley
  • Bridges by David Holmsen
  • The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale written and illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia
  • How a House Is Built written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons

Spotlight on Strategies



Please share your designs, photos, failures, and successes with us @@discoveryed and #communitystem 


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  1. Amanda Wilson said:

    Hi Ms. Jones, I was very excited to come across your article on the Discovery Education blog. Last year, I did a bridge challenge with my first graders where they were able to use materials from home, like cereal boxes and popsicle sticks. After reading your article and looking at the resources, you provided, I will be making adjustments to create a richer lesson. My students will enjoy the virtual field trips and the digital media. I appreciated the literary references and plan on using them.

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