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Bridge Building Challenges Royal 7s

As the first quarter comes to an end, the Royal 7's wrap up technology education by building and testing wooden bridges, a project some find frustrating. Sixth graders celebrate the end of the quarter by testing racing cars they built. Included: Outline of the technology education program.

As the first quarter comes to a close, Bennet Middle School students are wrapping up projects in one of their "specials" before moving on to the next course. For the Royal 7's, seventh grade technology education is coming to an end.

Technology education has a theme for every grade, and seventh graders study construction, and some aspects of communication. Construction is one of the standards for technology education.

Students' researched different types of bridges and how they are constructed, and then designed and constructed their own wooden bridges. Students used software to help with the design, and did some simple drafting. First students designed the bridge on graph paper, then measured wooden pieces, and then cut the pieces and glued them together on the bridge outline.

The climax of the quarter is weighing the bridges and then putting them in a press-like device to pressure test them, to see if they splinter at particular points, or completely. Some of the youngsters, fearing their work will collapse, ask not to pressure-test their bridges. Technology education teacher Nickole Staves allows them to calculate their bridge's efficiency based on dimensions of a similar bridge.

On the last day of the quarter, the classroom is very much an active construction zone. Some of the projects still are on the drawing boards, literally, while others are ready for pressure testing. Several students who completed their bridges are assisting others. A number of students will have to stay after school to finish in time for the deadline.

"I'm taking an F," one boy sighs as he struggles with sticks and glue.

Students also had to give a Power Point presentation on an existing bridge. Mrs. Staves assigned each group of students a state, and they had to find a bridge in that state, research it, and answer questions about it.


To finish up their technology unit on transportation, sixth graders made wooden cars and for their end-of-quarter project, make predictions as to which car will be the fastest. The cars race on a 30-foot long track and classmates time the cars with stopwatches. Other students calculate the speed of the cars and graph the results.

Education World Goes Back to School

Education World news editor Ellen R. Delisio is spending several days a month this school year with the Royal 7's, a seventh grade team at Bennet Middle School, a grade 6 to 8 school in Manchester, Connecticut. She is observing and participating in students' learning, and talking with staff about their strategies and perspectives on improving student performance. She is a graduate of W. Tresper Clarke Junior-Senior High School in Westbury, N.Y.

(Editor's Note: All students' names have been changed) 

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
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