Design and Build a Bridge to Withstand Earthquakes

April 17th, 2007 by ClickSchooling Leave a reply »

Recommended Website:

New Bay Bridge:
Bridge to Classroom

Note regarding age range: Although the bridge activity is “designed for middle school and supports California State Content Standards for 6th grade science,” students a bit older or younger will still find it fun, engaging and educational.

April 18th is the anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. (You can learn all about it at the Virtual Museum of San Francisco.) In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake destroyed a portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (not to be confused with the more famous Golden Gate Bridge). A new earthquake-resistant bridge is currently under construction, and today’s website, owned and managed by the California Alliance for Jobs in cooperation with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), offers an incredible interactive learning experience about the construction process.

This website was last updated a few years ago, and the existing bridge’s demolition date has since been adjusted to 2012 or 2013 rather than Summer 2007. But let that not deter you from the wonderful educational activities in this “Classroom” portion of the site! Here students can:

  • Learn about California’s “Quake Country.” Learn basic facts about the Earth’s plate movement and predictions regarding future seismic activity. See why it is a good idea to have a bridge that is able to withstand the worst quake likely to occur.
  • Design a bridge. In this activity, learn about the various types of bridges and select one for each section of your bridge. Learn about a few different safety features and apply as many as you like. Test your bridge to
    see how it holds up against quakes of different magnitudes and along different faults. And finally, print your bridge if you wish. (Especially if it remains intact!) Good luck!
  • See how the engineers plan to span an incredible two miles. Be sure to click all the icons along the bottom of the diagram to get all of the details. Note: In this presentation the date of demolition of the current
    bridge and the design of the new bridge reflect the best of anyone’s knowledge at the time.
  • Read brief profiles of some of the 2,000 people involved in the design and construction of the new bridge. Photos are included.

Older students (and parents!) may wish to learn more about the project at the official Bay Bridge Info site. There is a lot to be learned there!  Take a virtual drive in either direction across the new bridge.

You may also like to watch a YouTube video of the world-famous Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse (“The Greatest Camera Scoop of All Time!”).

If all of this whets your appetite for more updated information concerning this monumental undertaking, read more courtesy of Wikipedia. From the bottom of that article, follow the link to the Caltrans official website for some interesting videos and construction cams.

Enjoy! :)


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