Bridge the Gap

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Learners work in groups to construct bridges using stale marshmallows and toothpicks. They build bridges inspired by various designs, and then test the strength of the bridge by weighting it down with pennies until the bridge fails. The lesson plan includes handouts, background information about different styles of bridges, suggested extension activities, as well as a mini-biography of a bridge operations administrator.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 7 days

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Mini marshmallows
  • Round toothpicks
  • Cups
  • Spaghetti style pasta
  • Rulers
  • Manila folders, card stock, or cardboard (at least 8½” by 11”)
  • Pennies
  • Pencil
  • Marker
  • Materials to photocopy: Science Background and Student Procedure (1 per group)
  • Demo: 6 Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors
  • Demo: 4 brads
  • Demo: Rubber band
  • Demo: Tool to make holes in Popsicle sticks (e.g., drill or hammer and nail)
  • Optional: Straws
  • Optional: Clay
  • Optional: Styrofoam peanuts
  • Optional: Gumdrops


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking
  • Model Building
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • NASA