Paper Bridges

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In this activity, learners build bridges using paper and explore how much weight each bridge design can support. There is an element of surprise, which increases learners' interest in the physics, when they discover just how strong they can make this seemingly flimsy material. This lesson guide includes background information, discussion questions, demonstration ideas and extensions.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model

English, French, Italian

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 5 sheets of paper
  • Box of large paper clips
  • Small weights, including pennies, film canisters filled with sand, etc.
  • Yardstick or meterstick
  • 1 scale (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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


Foreign language versions of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


Funding Source:

  • Unisys