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Abbey Parsonage

November 13th 2012

Testing BeamsStability and Support


Grade: 3

Subject: Science

Unit: Testing Materials and Designs

Lesson Duration: 30 minutes

OUTCOMES FROM ALBERTA PROGRAM OF STUDIES

General Learning Outcomes:


Students will:
Investigate the nature of things, demonstrating purposeful action that leads to observations
and inferences.
Identify patterns and order in objects and events studied; and, with guidance, record
observations, using pictures, words and charts; and make predictions and generalizations,
based on observations.
Specific Learning Outcomes:
Students will:
explore and investigate to carry out procedures developed by themselves or identified by
others.
focus to identify one or more possible answers to questions by stating predictions or
hypotheses.
reflect and interpret to record observations and measurements, using captioned pictures and
charts, with guidance in the construction of charts. Computer resources may be used for
record keeping and for display and interpretation of data.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Students will:
1. List a hypothesis or prediction for the experiment
2. Record the results of the test.
3. State a conclusion based on the results.
4. Identify which beam is the strongest.
5. Identify which beam is most stable.
ASSESSMENTS

Observations:
Key Questions:
Observe the students' behaviour
Are the students able to make accurate
during the experiment.
hypotheses?
Observe the students' predictions,
How accurate are the students' results and
results and conclusions.
conclusions?
Written/Performance Assessments: lesson #1 worksheet in the student workbook
LEARNING RESOURCES CONSULTED

Resource #1: Science Program of Studies


Resource #2: The London Bridge is Falling Down Student Investigative Report workbook
Resource #3: Bridges! Amazing Structures to Design, Build and Test
MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT
6 pieces of cardboard: 2 at 30cm, 2 at 60 cm, and 2 at 90 cm.
3 pieces of joined cardboard: 30cm, 60cm, and 90cm
student workbooks

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November 13th 2012

textbooks for bases to hold cardboard


various smaller books to use as weights
PROCEDURE

Introduction (2 min.):

Hook/Attention Grabber: Ask the students if they brought their singing voices to class today. Explain
that we are going to sing a song about the London Bridge falling down to begin the lesson. Play the
video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVXcelGB65E. Ask the students to play close attention to
the sagging beam in the video.
Assessment of Prior Knowledge: Ask the students to remember back to the last few lessons where we
practised making predictions. Explain that today, we will get to make predictions, but then test our
predictions with a hands on activity.
Expectations for Learning and Behaviour: Students will listen attentively to the instructions,
participate in the experiment and record their results.
Advance Organizer/Agenda: Explain to the class that today, we will be testing the different beam
bridgesthe part that spans the gap and that we travel on. We will have to make a prediction, test and
then record and reflect on our results.
Transition to Body:Ask the class helper to pass out the science workbooks and ask the students to
make their prediction where it says hypothesis.
Body (26 min.):
Learning Activity #1: Direct Instruction (5 mins.)
Hold up a piece of cardboard and ask the students how this could be used as a bridge beam.
What is a beam? How could this be used to represent a beam. Think back to the lego,
popsicle sticks and strawsthey are representations of the actual building materials that
engineers would use.
Explain that beam bridges are the simplest kind of bridge. They are used to span short gaps
and are supported by piers (upright supports). The beam goes across the piers.
The weight on the beam pushes down on the piers. Both the beam and piers must be strong to
support the weight, or the beam will collapse.
Say,The load, or the weight being placed on the bridge creates two kinds of force,
compression and tension. Compression pushes or squeezes the bridge's parts. Tension pulls or
stretches them. For a bridge to work, it must be able to hold all the pushing and pulling.
Explain to the class that as we test, they will have to take time to record the results so we don't
forget. We will have 2 minutes for each test and one minute to write down our results before
we begin the next test.
Ask the students to gather around the table with their workbooks and pencils.
Assessments/Differentiation: Observe the students' ability to follow directions and get prepared for
the experiment.
Learning Activity #2: Experiment (18 mins.)
Ask the students to gather around the experiment area. Explain that the textbooks are the

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November 13th 2012
bridge's piers and that it will help stabilize the bridge. Ask, what does it mean to stabilize
something? Why is it important to have stability for the bridge?
Explain that we will be placing smaller books on top of the cardboard. These books will be
the load. We will record how many books each piece of cardboard can support. Ask, How
will we know when there is too much weight to support the beam?
Lay the 30cm, 60cm and 90cm flat pieces of cardboard and test each one. Stop to allow time
to record between tests. (9 mins)
Say, I'm looking for someone who has all the answers written down to come up and help be
the tester for the next beam. **Use this process in-between each test.**
Then, hold up the pieces of cardboard that are on end. Ask, will this be a better beam?
Hands up if you think it will be better than the flat piece of cardboard. (9 mins.)
Repeat the testing and recording process for these three lengths of cardboard.
Assessments/Differentiation:After the class, check to ensure each student has recorded data from the
experiment in their workbooks.
Learning Activity #3: Class Discussion (3 mins.)
Ask the students to return to their desks and prepare to wrap up the experiment by making a
conclusion.
Pull up the electronic copy of the lesson as a Notebook document. During the discussion,
record the students' answers. This will help them to self-assess their own results.
Explain that conclusions are important to explain whether or not the predictions came true and
explain why. Ask, When we ask WHY, what are we doing? (reflection)
Ask the students which beam supported the most weight? Ask them to record their answer at
the bottom of the page. Then, ask, which beam was the most stable and the least stable?
Finally, ask the students which beam supported the least weight? Was this the same beam as
the beam that was least stable?
Explain that based on our results, beam bridges like the ones we tested cannot stretch across
very long distances, since they are only supported by the piers at the ends of the beam, with
nothing supporting the center.
Assessments/Differentiation: Listen and respond to the students' answers and check their written
responses under the conclusion heading after class.
Closure (2 min.):
Consolidation/Assessment of Learning: Ask the students, if you were to build a beam bridge, which
style and length of beam would you use? Why did you choose the option you did? What is
compression and tension? Why are they important to recognize when learning about bridges?
Feedback From Students: Written responses in their workbooks and verbal feedback during class
discussion.
Feedback To Students: Say,Well, as first-time engineers, you did a super job of testing beam
bridges. But, beam bridges are just the beginning! We are going to test ALL aspects of a bridge using
this same procedure.
Transition To Next Lesson: Explain that next class, we will be doing another experiment with beams,

Abbey Parsonage
November 13th 2012
but using a different materialfoam and further exploring the concepts of compression and tension.
We will get to see how the foam changes shape without breaking, unlike the cardboard we used
today. We will get to see the pushing and pulling that happens when a load is applied to the bridge's
beams.