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Island 2 Bridge Designer: Exploring Virtual Bridge Design

Mechanics and Structures

POP students will learn about different types of bridges and how they are engineered for strength. Then begin exploring virtual bridge design with Bridge Designer.


Island 2 Bridge Designer: Exploring Virtual Bridge Design

POP students are challenged to use Bridge Designer to engineer a cost-effective truss bridge that will support a two-lane highway across the river valley.

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

Types of Bridges:

Beam bridges are used for a span of less than 250 feet. They are made of a deck supported by piers.

Truss bridges are made up of a framework of beams in the form of a triangle that work to form a rigid structure.

Suspension bridges have a bridge deck held up by cables. 

Arch bridges offer natural strength and are some of the oldest functioning bridges in the world.

Compression and Tension:

There are two forces at play in all bridges. Compression is a force that compresses or shortens the object it is acting on. Tension is a force that stretches or lengthens the object it is acting on. 

Imagine a spring. When you pull it apart, you create tension. If keep pulling on it, eventually it will snap back. When you push it together, you create compression. If you keep pushing on it, eventually it will buckle.

About Bridge Designer:

Bridge Designer is a challenging, computer simulation program. It allows you to design and test hundreds of different types of bridges. 

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