The student will use a ruler to accurately measure the height of the tested arches.
(PA Science & Technology Standards: 3.2.7B; PA Mathematics Standard: 2.3.3B)
The student will be able to state the relationship between the height of an arch and its ability to support weight. (Teacher Note: The steeper the arch the more weight it can support.)
(PA Science & Technology Standard: 3.2.4D, 3.2.7B, 3.4.4A)
Observing, Inferring, Predicting, Measuring, Using numbers
Materials: (For each group of 4-6 students)
Four books of equal size
A supply of stiff paper (such as Oak Tag)
One 30 centimeter ruler
A supply of pennies
Record keeping sheet: "Golden Arches"
One 30-minute period
1. Direct all groups of students to place two books on a table six centimeters away from two other books. The children should put the first test paper in between the two sets of books creating an arch. They should measure and record the height of the arch in centimeters.
2. To test the strength of their arch each group of students should stack pennies, one at a time, in the center of the arch until it collapses.
NOTE: Students can learn about arches and their structural characteristics at the following web site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/buildingbig/lab/loads.html
3. Direct all groups to try the same test with the other paper lengths, being sure to keep the books the same distance apart as in the first test. Remind the students to record the number of pennies each arch was able to hold before it collapsed on the "Golden Arches" record keeping sheet.
4. As an additional investigation, have the students repeat the procedure but vary the distance between the books while keeping the height of the arch the same. This extension lesson explores the relationship between the length of an arch and its ability to support weight.
"Golden Arches" record keeping sheet
Accuracy of measurements
Reasonableness of prediction
Response to journal prompt
Summarize what you have learned about the arch shape and how it can be made stronger.
Related Resources on Pennsylvania Bridges
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