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Bridges in Iowa

Efficient structures called bridges allow individuals, cars or trucks to cross from one side to the other. Many bridges can be found in Iowa.

Story City, Iowa and Waverly, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • Why are bridges useful?
  • What shapes do we see in bridges?
  • How do factors like material and location affect how a bridge is built?

Classroom Suggestions

  • Teacher displays an example of a bridge – either a picture or real life example. Then, the teacher can play the role of someone who has never seen a bridge and have students collaborate in groups to define what a bridge is and why they would build them.
  • Students sketch/build a bridge across two structures (desks/table) and test different designs of bridges.
  • The class could take a field trip to a local bridge or observe famous bridges online. Then make ties to the history of the bridge, the physical materials it is made of, and how big it is.
  • Supporting Students
    • Ask questions:
      • Where is the closest bridge to the school?
      • Do you know of any famous bridges?
      • How long ago do you think the first bridge in Iowa was built? In the United States? In the world?
    • Compare and contrast very different bridges:
      • How are they different?
      • Do they serve the same purpose?
    • Potential student generated questions:
      • How are bridges built?
      • How long does it take to build a bridge?
      • What makes a bridge a bridge?
      • Are bridges only in Iowa?
      • Does a bridge always have to go over water?

Related Resources

  • Science Buddies: Walks through an activity involving testing different designs of bridges and how they handle increasing loads of weight.
  • Iowa DOT: You can use the Iowa Department of Transportation’s search engine to find the bridges around your area of your choosing.

Iowa Core Alignment


Credit Info

Submitted by Ethan Beck and Lydia Hobby


Have you used this resource in your classroom? Do you have ideas for improvement? Share your ideas, experiences and feedback about this phenomena.

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