Build a Bridge

Build a bridge that can hold rocks with your child.

  • Target Age:  3-6 
  • Learning Goals:  planning, observation, engineering, mathematics
  • Related EpisodeEpisode 4264: Goodbye Pacifier


  • Paper
  • Paper clips
  • 2 large books or wooden blocks
  • Small rocks


  1. Take a piece of paper and place it flat across two books or blocks that are 6 inches apart.
  2. One at a time, place rocks in the center of the paper and observe how many rocks the paper can hold before it falls.
  3. Ask your child what he thinks he could do to the paper to make it stronger and discuss a few solutions together. Perhaps you can fold the paper or pleat the paper so that it can hold more weight. How could you use the paper clips?
  4. Through trial and error, experiment by engineering different bridges and testing how many rocks each one can hold. Which bridge is the strongest?
  5. Talk with your child about what they learned in the bridge investigation and then discuss other materials you could use to make an even stronger bridge. Fabric? Popsicle sticks? Pipe cleaners? Design some bridges by drawing them on paper first, and then engineer them together!
  6. The next time you and your child see or cross over a bridge, talk about what you notice. What materials do you think were used to build the bridge? What is holding up the bridge? Are there cables? If so, try counting them.


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