This page contains a list of links to topics that directly relate to building a popsicle stick model bridge from our store. This page will guide you through supplementary information that will enhance the learning process tied to the building project. You can find this page from the link in your building instructions or by visiting our Store and look on the right sidebar.
Let’s get started.
Before You Start Building
Before you jump right in and start building your bridge from our blueprints or kit, you need to know a few things.
How Good are These Bridge Designs, and Where Did They Come From?
We offer three truss design types in our store. The Warren, Pratt, and Howe truss designs. Each of these has a fascinating history, and we encourage you to read up on them on our Truss Design page. These truss designs have been used for building real bridges for hundreds of years, and are quite strong when implemented correctly. Our founder, Garrett Boon, used his extensive knowledge of building model bridges to come up with an easy to build method to build these into a bridge made of popsicle sticks. The beauty of the models in our store is that they use the engineering principles that the inventors of these truss designs wanted, and made them very easy to build. This makes our models adaptable for use in classrooms of varying ages.
In addition to those three truss types, we also offer different kinds of bridge types in our store. These are the Beam, Arch, Truss, and Suspension. We already mentioned the truss types, but if you are interested in learning more about the other types of bridges, check out our Bridge Types page.
Choosing Your Materials
You are using popsicle sticks and glue as the main materials for construction. Popsicle sticks vary greatly in quality, so learn how to pick the good ones. If you are purchasing your own popsicle sticks, this is extremely important. We always include lots of extra popsicle sticks with our kits so that you can sort through and find the best.
Likewise, the type of glue you use will greatly impact the strength of your bridge. Read our Glue Tips page for more information. In our kits, we provide Elmer’s White Glue because this is the most common required glue type. You can substitute this for a different glue if you choose.
You will need to find a place where you can work on this project for an entire afternoon, or potentially over the course of a couple days (depending on your time and complexity of bridge). You want a flat table top in a room with good ventilation and lighting.
After You Finish Building
The building instructions included with your blueprints and kit guide you through the actual construction of your bridge. Now you need to know how to test and evaluate it. This the Break It stage of model bridge building.
Testing Your Bridge to Failure
After you put a lot of hard work and time into building your bridge, do you really want to destroy it? Actually, when it comes to model bridges, we think there is no better way to learn than to see pieces of your bridge flying in all directions. After the “whoa” moment, you start evaluating how your bridge broke and what to do better next time. But first, you should browse through the different methods for testing a bridge and pick the one that works best for you. Make sure to video tape the testing process. Even more important is to record the weight of your bridge and the weight it supported before breaking.
There is a very simple calculation you can do called the Efficiency Score. This number helps give you a baseline to compare other model bridges built with similar instructions.
The efficiency score is only the beginning. Make sure to read through our entire Break It section to fully understand how to evaluate your bridge. Our hope is that you take what you learn from your first bridge and apply it to another. Alternately, we hope that you become more familiar with the engineering process as a whole which will help you in any STEM endeavor.
If you as a customer have any further questions, feel free to contact us via our Support Form.