Sunday, January 8, 2017

Science and Literacy---Building Bridges

During the 2016-2017 school year, my school has begun an initiative to try to increase our students' literacy skills as much as possible. One of the ways we are doing this is by creating a Literacy Block/class that every student attends. It is immediately after homeroom and lasts for 35 minutes. During that time, we do different reading strategies each day that is to be completed before, during, and after our readings. Since I teach science, my literacy block reads all things science (Earth, Life, and Physical).

This week, our topic was on Bridges. Tuesday we read about a local historical bridge and its significance. From there, they were given a research "project" about the bridge for them to complete. There was no way, as you can imagine, for us to finish all of that in one day. Students finished up their research on Wednesday and we shared it with each other. We then watched a BrainPop video about the different types of bridge designs. Students discussed with each other which design they thought would be the strongest and why. I then gave the students the task to design/sketch a bridge they would like to construct out of paper and staples that could hold up a science textbook, and allow things to pass underneath it. They instantly spouted off their doubts in paper being strong enough to complete such a task. However, being the competitive and strong-willed middle schoolers they are, they began the task. Thursday they read an article about the specific bridge design they chose to sketch. Some students were reading about arches, some about beams, and some about suspensions. At no point, however, were there any students not actively reading. Once they were finished reading their article, they were to add any last minute designs to their sketch so Friday they would only be focusing on construction. Friday came and they were like kids in a candy factory. I provided them with only recycled paper and staplers/staples. With no parameter on the amount of paper or staples they could use or parameters on dimensions requirements, they quickly began their constructions. By the end of class, most of the designs could hold at least one or two science textbooks. Then, there was this design.....

After clearly being able to withstand the weight of two textbooks, the group wanted to see just how much their bridge could hold. They began emptying their book bags of all their binders, composition notebooks, and spiral notebooks. One by one they piled them on top of the textbooks. This picture was taken shortly before it fell after adding another 6 inches tall worth of notebooks.

This simple activity got my students to enjoy reading about bridges, be able to complete comprehension from reading activities and build a bridge of their own design. A happy merger or reading and science.

This is one of many reasons why I love teaching science.
This is one of many reasons why I love my school.
This is one of many reasons why I love teaching middle school.


  1. I love your bridge unit. I love the way students get to interact when they are doing STEM activities.

  2. This is great - thank you so much for sharing

  3. I remember doing this when I was a student. Fun and Learning at the same time is a bonus in my book!

  4. I wish I was in this class! What a great way to make reading meaningful!

  5. IT sounds super fun. I wish I can join too. Thanks for sharing your posts.