Typically completed by 5-11 year olds, CREST Star and SuperStar challenges relate to everyday experiences. Children complete eight activities to gain a CREST Award, with each activity taking between 45 minutes and one hour to complete.
The activities are designed to be easy-to-run and low-cost. You don’t need to be a teacher, have a science background or have access to specialist equipment to run them. The packs contain helpful hints and tips for you to use, explaining the scientific themes and offering guidance on conversation topics for your children.
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Bridge Blunder Organiser’s Card About the activity This activity is designed to get children thinking about weights, forces and measures. Children are set the challenge of helping Star Spans, a design company, fix their bridge and stop it swaying. Through this activity you will support your group to: • Build different models of bridges. • Test their different models to see which can hold the most weight and why. • Record and share their results. Kit list • A4 paper – 12 sheets per team (2 for initial exploration, 5 for their first trial, 5 for the final bridge). Have a few pieces in reserve. Scrap paper is fine. • Sellotape – you should restrict this to a short strip per group. Sellotape is only for securing things, not for wrapping round the paper. • 10 and 100 gram masses, coins, blocks or other equipment to act as ‘weights’ – bridges can support a surprisingly large mass. • Play blocks or similar to create the 20 cm gap for the bridge – or gap between chair and tables. • Pictures of bridges (optional) What to do 1. Introduce the activity using the story of Star Spans. You may want to show the children some pictures of different shaped bridges. 2. Give out activity cards and equipment to the children. 3. Explain that they will be using the equipment provided to test the best design for a bridge. Give the children a little time to talk together and to try making strong shapes using single sheets of paper. They can fold or cut the paper if they wish. 4. Encourage children to discuss their ideas and how to carry out their investigations. Prompt questions: • How many different kinds of bridge do you know? • Are some shapes stronger than others? • How will they make sure their test is fair? • How will they record their results?
5. Now give each group 5 sheets of paper and a small amount of tape. Tell them they have 10 minutes to try out ideas for how they might make their bridge. This will not be the final bridge. Let each group test their bridge with weights as they go along. You will need to decide together where to put the weights on the bridges to test them. 6. Encourage children to evaluate the design. What do they need to change to make the bridge stronger? Now they will make their final bridge. They will need more paper. Warn them that they are not allowed to use any of the old paper but can use their earlier ideas to help them. 7. Support children to conduct their tests and make their own records of their results. They could also take photographs or make drawings. After children have tested their bridges, provide time for them to talk through what was successful and what didn’t work. 8. Ask the children to present their bridge to the rest of the group and test it. Things to think about Make sure the weights are placed, not dropped, on the bridges. You can decide to spread weights evenly across the bridge (like the children in the story) or focus them in the centre. To make fair comparisons between the bridges the same test should be carried out on each one. Do not fasten the ends of the bridge to the supports. This does strengthen the bridge but if well fastened it can require large weights to make even a single piece of paper collapse. There are many solutions to this problem. The shape is all important. The weakest bridge is often a flat sheet of paper. It can be made stronger by flat folding, creating a triangular prism shape or rolling the paper along its length. Walls can add strength as can pillars or arches. Suspending the bridge can also help. We have used the term ‘weights’, rather than the more scientifically accurate ‘masses’, since this is the term that young children are more likely to know. Keywords • Construction • Weights • Masses • Suspension • Support 10 100 Take it further Children could act out a design award to showcase the bridge or bridges that were the strongest. Children could sketch their bridge and make notes about how it worked. Watch out! ! Avoid weights falling from a height. If bridges are high, you will need a bucket of sand or cardboard box filled with crumpled paper underneath to catch falling weights. British Science Association Registered Charity No. 212479 and SC039236