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Straw Bridges

Source Institutions

    Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

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Straw Bridges

Learners design, build and test a model bridge out of straws. The bridge must span 25 cm across a gap between two tables or two chairs. To measure the load, the bridge must securely hold a small cup. Learners test the load by placing as many pennies in the cup as possible and counting how many the bridge can hold.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • non-bendy, plastic drinking straws
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Meter stick
  • Small paper cup
  • 200 to 300 pennies (or washers or weights)
  • Two tables or two chairs for a testing station
  • Optional: Balance for weighing


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, ©2012


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