Just how hard is it to build a bridge? Well, I think our library kids can best answer that question. What I do know is that planning a Kids’ STEM Workshop around bridge building using Legos and Engino toys to help reinforce the B.A.T.S. design that all bridges utilize was super easy, and super fun!
The skinny: This was a wonderful, relaxed program that cost us $0. The Engino toy parts and Legos we used were proved to us through a grant and by gift from our Friends of the Library. We already had these resources, so it made sense to me to feature them as a STEM program. Again, if you do not have these materials, then this may be a great idea for a grant project. I hope this lesson plan helps spark every better ideas you can use in your grant proposal for how you plan to use these materials in your community!
Cost: $0 because supplies were donated through grants and Friends of the Library Gifts.
Resources: Amy Koester had an excellent post about a program her library offered on Bridge Science. Her post was so straightforward that I thought, “Hey, we can do this too!” I highly encourage you to check it out.
How it went: First, I brought all the kids together into our Storytime/Programming Room. I then had a stroke of genius! In the past, I had to hook up my laptop to our projector to show kids a larger picture of what I wanted to show them. We have a monitor that has never been used. I attached it to my computer, and-wow-that was all I needed for the size of our room! No fancy take down or anything!
We talked about what engineering means, and how sometimes we work on things that do not turn out right. The solution: we learn from our mistakes and try again. I showed them Amy Koester’s Prezi presentation that helped introduce basic design concepts for bridges. (For some reason, the youtube video from Amy’s pretension on the Tacoma Brudge would not play. I showed my students this historic recording of the Tacoma Bridge Collapse instead: Tacoma Bridge Collapse).
I then asked the kids to use what they had learned to design their own bridge using the B.A.T.S design that we talked about in the presentation (Beams, Arches, Trusses, and Suspension).
I think that using the Engino and Lego parts was much easier to accomplish variations of the B.A.T.S. design than the newspaper was from our last Bridge Engineering Workshop. Kids were able to choose to either work with Legos or Engino. I had the Engino workbook open to the “Moving Bridge” instructions, and I offered to help the kids put it together, as it was more difficult that free building with Legos. Working with a 5 year old, however, we figured it out! Lots of kids wanted to show me their design. I asked what kind of supports they used, and helped give them vocabulary as they described what they built. “Oh! That looks like a support! Is that what you were building?” That kind of interaction I think helps drive home the point of the workshop and gives kids a greater understanding of the larger theme. This was a more relaxed program with kids building, and adults helping, or watching their kids create on their own. Very fun, and something we hope to do again!