Building popsicle stick bridges is one of my favorite activities to do in my spare time. I have built many popsicle bridges over the years, and love coming up with new designs. A huge focus of my bridges is designing blueprints that are easy to build and structurally sound at the same time. You can purchase many of my plans and blueprints in my store.
Design the Bridge
To start building a popsicle bridge, first you need to come up with a design. Sometimes aspects of the design are set for you if you are building a bridge for a school project or a competition. Often the length of the bridge, as well as how many popsicle sticks you can use are defined by the rules you have been given. Other things, however, are up to you.
If you are just starting out building model bridges, I would recommend you use one of the three most common truss designs. These are the Howe Truss, the Pratt Truss, and Warren Truss. Each of these are very strong designs. Once you have picked out a design, then you can draw out your design to life size on paper, you even draw it out on the computer. The blueprints I have for sale have done all this work for you, and allow you to focus on building the bridge without worrying about how to design a bridge.
Build the Bridge
Now you are ready to build your popsicle stick bridge. Choose your popsicle sticks carefully, because when you buy them from a store some of the sticks in the package will be no good. Choosing a glue to use is also important. Often what I do is build each side of the bridge individually and then join them together. When you are joining the sides, be sure to make the bridge perfectly vertical. If the bridge is leaning at all, then it will be much weaker. I always include lateral bracing to make my bridges stronger.
After you finish your bridge completely, wait enough time to allow the glue to dry completely before you test the bridge. Sometimes you will want to test the bridge immediately, but your bridge will not hold as much weight if you test it before the glue has cured. Be sure to take pictures of your popsicle bridge and send them to me! I would absolutely love to see photos of the bridges you have made. In fact, I have a photo contest going on for the month of January, so be sure to check that out.
Test Your Popsicle Stick Bridge
Testing a popsicle bridge is perhaps the best part of making a bridge. I think so, that is. Perhaps it is something inherent in a boy’s nature to want to see things break and explode, I am not sure. I do know that I love testing my bridges to failure not only to see them fly into millions of pieces, but also to get an efficiency score and to learn how to build a better bridge. You can learn a lot more about testing model bridges on my Testing Tips page.