Paper Bridge

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In this engineering activity, challenge learners to construct a paper bridge that can support 100 pennies. Learners discover how they can make a weak material like paper strong enough to support a load pennies by changing the shape of the paper (by rolling, crumpling or folding it). [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • piece of 8.5 x 11 paper
  • 6 books
  • 100 pennies
  • ruler


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2002

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0229796
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation
  • PBS