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Island 3 Zometools-Bridges

Mechanics and Structures

The city is expanding its roadways and needs to upgrade an existing river bridge to manage heavier vehicle traffic. The bridge was originally built only for bikers and pedestrians, so the structure is too weak to support heavier cars. The city wants to save money by adding onto the existing bridge, and they hire you for the job.

The challenge is to add structural pieces to the city's pedestrian beam bridge so that it can hold vehicle traffic as well. It needs to be safe enough to support the expected changes in traffic as the road continues to be updated. Once students gain these skills, they will be ready for the city's next challenge - rebuilding a highway bridge from the ground up.



What You Will Learn:

  • How to model structures using Zometool

  • How different types of bridges are engineered to hold heavy loads

  • The effects of tension and compression with different types of bridges

What is a Bridge?​

A bridge is a structure that spans a landform in order to provide passage over an obstacle.

  • They can cross a variety of landforms, such as valleys or crevasses, streets, and bodies of water (rivers or lakes).

  • They can be built to accommodate many loads, including cars, pedestrians, trains, bikes, and animals.

  • There are many different types of bridges. The chosen design depends on several factors:

    • The length needed

    • Whether it crosses over water, a valley, a street, or some other obstacle

    • Available materials

    • General location

    • Potential maintenance

Bridge types generally fall into four categories: 1) Beam, 2) Truss, 3) Suspension, and 4) Arch.

How to Use Zometools

Take a look at the long thin pieces. These are called struts. Students will notice that the struts come in different colors, different sizes, and with three different shapes on the ends. The blue has a rectangle shape, the yellow has a triangle, and the red has a pentagon. 

The other pieces are white and spherically shaped. These are called “balls” or nodes. They have rectangular, triangular, and pentagonal holes so students can put the correct shape on the strut into the correct hole on the ball.  

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