90 Minutes  |  6th – 12th Grades

west point

The West Point Bridge Design software is a free-to-use simulation for basic bridge design.  Students will be introduced basic theory of structural design (forces, materials, properties, etc.) and learn the various types of bridges that are used in the world. A video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse will be viewed and the engineering failures of this design will be discussed. Students will then be able to create the designs described in the introduction and then make their own bridges to compete for the cheapest, working bridge.

The objectives of this lesson are to introduce students to civil engineering and bridge design, construct a prototype that can be tested in the program, use the appropriate vocabulary in describing the construction of their bridge, and utilize technology to  demonstrate prototyping and engineering practices.

Additionally, there is an opportunity for students to pursue further investigate independently in a contest sponsored by the US Military Academy at West Point.  The contest rules are simple, and a $5,000 scholarship with a free laptop is available for the winners in each bracket.

MA Framework Content Standards:
Grades 6-8:  Technology/Engineering: 5.2 Types of Bridges and Uses.  5.3 Forces in Bridges.  5.4 Structural Loads and Shapes.
High School: Technology/Engineering: 2.2 Forces.

Lesson Plan:
Lesson Plan – West Point Bridge Design

West Point Bridge Design Software Download