New Principles of Engineering class starts school year with DaVinci bridge challenge
First day of school pop quiz: Build a 10-foot-long bridge capable of holding up to six students using just wood. No nails. No bolts. No screws.
That was the challenge set by teacher Matthew Battisti for the first day of his Principles of Engineering class, a new Project Lead the Way (PLTW) course being offered at Broadalbin-Perth Jr./Sr. High School this year.
For their first assignment, Battisti and his students spent the first day of school building DaVinci bridges. A DaVinci bridge is a uniquely designed bridge held together by its own weight without requiring any ties or connections. When a downward force is applied to the structure, the braced members are forced to interlock and tighten together through the structural concepts of shear and bending.
Battisti tasked his students with building a bridge with no nails and no fasteners. The only materials they had available were 10 six-foot pieces of wood and five, four-foot crosspieces. The bridge had to span 10 feet and be tall enough to slide a chair under it.
While apprehensive, students tested the bridge and successfully walked across it. According to Bastisti, when you perform the calculations, the bridge is designed to hold up to 800 pounds.
Later in the course, students will continue their study of bridges by learning about truss design and analysis. According to the PLTW website, Principles of Engineering “introduces students to engineering concepts that are applicable to a variety of engineering disciplines and empowers them to develop technical skills through the use of engineering tools such as 3-D modeling software, hands-on prototyping equipment, programming software, and robotics hardware to bring their solutions to life. Students apply the engineering design process to solve real-world problems across a breadth of engineering fields such as mechanical, robotics, infrastructure, environmental sustainability, and product design and development.”