All notes, work, calculations and handouts must be clearly dated, organized and filed in each student's portfolio.
Get an overall grasp of the students' knowledge and experience with bridges. After a slide show of some famous bridges, ask them if they knew any of these.
New Haven is a waterfront community where rivers flow into the harbor which becomes part of Long Island Sound. It is also on the New York City to Boston I-95 corridor and a major railway. It is home to many bridges; therefore students will have local relevance and experience to draw from for this unit on bridges. Have the students describe the bridges they have seen in their area, why we need bridges and what qualities a bridge should have. They must be safe, durable, functional, and visually pleasing.
There are three local bridges in particular we will discuss:
1. the new Quinnipiac Bridge section of the I-95 interstate being built downtown over the river
2. the closing of the Ferry Street bridge in town
3. the 1983 collapse of the Mianus River Bridge in Greenwich, CT. Copies of newspaper articles on these bridges can be obtained and used for practicing reading skills. Students would underline vocabulary words, answer questions and make up a question with answer.
Show the students pictures or slides of great bridges. To get the students thinking and talking, ask what type of bridge they would choose to build and where it would be.
Which type would they like to see in their neighborhood? Do they know that a major bridge has just begun to be built in New Haven? It is to be completed in 2014. Which type would be their choice of the new Q-bridge? Discuss, and then show a picture of the one chosen. Have the students explain their opinions. For a photo, go to
Ask who has taken a train into New York City. If they did then they rode over bridges. What would they do if they were going over a bridge and it collapsed? That happened down the road from here. The Mianus River bridge portion of I-95, in Greenwich collapsed on a June morning in 1983 sending three people to their deaths. What could have caused a section of Interstate 95 to fall out? The collapse was blamed on the failure of the steel pins to hold the horizontal beams together and inadequate inspections. What would you demand of your legislators after knowing the cause of the disaster? (New inspection laws) Ask the students if anyone remembers the 2004 accident on an I-95 bridge in nearby Bridgeport. The bridge was partly melted by a tanker truck explosion. Could this have been prevented? Traffic was going to be diverted for over two weeks but the bridge was reopened within a day. How? Huge crews were called in to fix it in record time, with much publicity. The Mianus River bridge traffic was delayed for 25 days after its collapse on this extremely busy interstate.
What would you do if the bridge you took to work was closed until further notice? That is happening in Fair Haven, next door. Imagine having a business on the other side that depended on the bridge to bring customers and inventory to you. What effect does that closing have on the neighborhoods and businesses on either side of the bridge? Do you know any business or person affected this way? What could you do about it? Discuss.
There are 583,000 bridges in this country. About how many is that per state on the average? 583,000 /50 is over10, 000 per state. There are three billion bridge crossings a day. The number one cause of bridge failure is flooding.
Make a bar graph of the lengths of the following ten structures, labeling completely and clearly.
1. Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 1950 5,979 ft
2. Empire State Building , NYC 1,453 ft
3. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco 6,450 ft
4. Brooklyn Bridge, NYC 5,989
5. Space Needle, Seattle 605
6. Titanic 885 ft.
7. Football field 300 ft.
8. Statue of Liberty, NYC 305 ft.
9. Average 9th grader 5.5 ft.
10. Eiffel Tower, Paris 1063 ft.
How many Titanics could have fit on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge?
5979/885 = over 6 Titannics
Make another graph of the current longest bridge of each type:
Arch (concrete) - Yugoslavia - 390
Arch (steel) - USA - 518
Box Girder - 300
Cable-stayed - Japan - 890
Cantilever - Canada - 548
Suspension - Japan - 1990m
Make up two math sentences using the inequality math symbols > and .
For example, 1990>300.