Village Bridges (Not) Falling Down


By Amilia F., Parent of Surfin’ Second Grader Zara and Upstanding Unicorn Lilah


Our second graders are officially engineering geniuses — at least, that’s the conclusion perpetuated by my proud-mom-bias. Last month, in a culmination of their one-month STEAM study on structures, the Surfin’ Second Graders and Wise Watermelons presented their popsicle stick bridges for strength testing in front of the entire school and throngs of excited parents.

For those of you new to Village, our second grade curriculum consists of a unit on Structures. Although science and engineering is the focus, the unit incorporates geography, art, reading, writing, public speaking, teamwork and social emotional learning. It really is a classic example of cross-disciplinary, project-based learning.

Students begin with a study of bridges. They learn about the different types of bridges, how to identify them, their design and structural integrity and the pros and cons of each. They visit the Tech Museum to learn about roller coaster design. Their focus then moves to structures around the world. Students bring in examples of structures that are meaningful to them, their families or their cultural heritage. In class, they arrange these structures on the wall by continent to get a view of aesthetics and design from around the world. They each pick a structure to research in depth, creating both a written report (showcased to parents during a publishing party) and a slideshow (presented complete with microphone and movie screen) in front of their classmates. Finally, students study science and engineering, learning about different materials and their properties, and about shapes and which create stronger and more stable structures. They are visited by an architect (also, a former Village parent), who discusses this topic in more depth and — as a prequel to their popsicle stick bridges — the students endeavor several challenges to build towers and other structures out of various classroom items for strength and stability. Finally, just a couple of weeks before the 100th day of school, students are presented with their 100 popsicle sticks to be used to build a bridge of their choice using only glue. The goal? To support 50 pounds of weight for at least 5 seconds!

Although some bridges survived and others didn’t, all of these students triumphed. Their pride and bravery were inspiring. Their joy at each others’ successes, and their empathy for those whose structures fell short of the 50 pound mark, were touching. And their love for their friends, teachers and this wonderful learning community was palpable. I felt so grateful to be a part of the experience.


A huge thanks to Teachers Chris and Elizabeth for their energy and enthusiasm. They were as excited as their students on Bridge Strength Testing Day!


Bridge Testing



Science & Engineering



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