The Difference is the Truss

Time Frame: 1 Class Period

Description: The students use a computer to simulate building and testing bridges with various types of trusses.

Educational Objectives:

  • The students will define a truss in their own words.
  • The students will explore how changing the members of a truss strengthen or weaken a structure.

TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills):
  • Science 112.3.2(B) Collect information by observing and measuring.
  • Science 112.3.2(C) Analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations from direct and indirect evidence.
  • Science 112.3.3(C) Represent the natural world using models and identify their limitations.
  • Science 112.3.4(A) Collect and analyze information using tools including calculators, microscopes, cameras, safety goggles, sound recorders, clocks, computers, thermometers, hand lenses, meter sticks, rulers, balances, magnets, and compasses.
  • Science 112.3.8(D) Describe how living organisms modify their physical environment to meet their needs such as beavers building a dam or humans building a home.

  • Computers
  • West Point Bridge Designer

Advanced Preparation:
  • Download West Point Bridge Design on to a floppy disk. The website is or use the link below.
  • Install the program on each computer. (You can download and install each computer individually if you desire.)
  • You MUST make sure that the program is downloaded to each computer your students will use before they can click it from the student pages. Otherwise they will access the download page.

  1. Demonstrate the program to the students.
  2. Monitor the students as they build and test bridges on the computer.
  3. Let the students print out any original designs they make that pass the load test.

Formative Assessment: Observation/Oral Discussion



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These pages were made through TeacherTECH, the teacher professional development component of GirlTECH, which is sponsored by the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education (CEEE) with support from the National Science Foundation through EOT-PACI, RGK Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, Rice University, and HiPerSoft.

Copyright June 2002 by Shirley Willingham