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Clay Bridges

Source Institutions

    The Exploratorium

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Clay Bridges

In this activity, learners make bridges using an oil-based modeling clay (plasticene). The instructions include discussion questions for both before and after bridge building. Key learning ideas are that bridges must support their own weight as well as any additional forces, and longer structures can become unstable at the ends. An extension is to use more or less clay and observe the effects.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Model

English, French, Italian

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 8 oz. plasticene (modeling clay)
  • Yardstick or meterstick


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building


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


Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, The Exploratorium, ©2000

Funding Source:

  • Unisys