Investigating Structures in STEM

Simon Edgar | Head of Junior and Middle School & enthusiastic STEM teacher   

Our Year 7 STEM classes have been examining bridges this week and why triangles are so important in making strong structures.  To help understand the concept we have delved into the history of bridges and their construction, taking our search right back to Roman times.  This has sparked interest throughout the class because they are also looking at Ancient Rome in their Humanities class.

Moving on from Ancient Rome and into a more modern era, we have looked at many types of bridges to compare their structural differences – especially some of the most iconic bridges like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.  After investigating so many structures, our students have learned that triangles are so important in making strong and stable bridges because their shape allows for even weight distribution without changing their proportions.

To help understand this in a practical way, we made tetrahedrons with toothpicks and gummy bears and discussed the three important characteristics of these triangles (support, stiffen and stabilise).

How many structures in the ‘real world’ can you identify which use triangles?