Galloping Who?

Time Frame: 1 Class Period

Description: The students are introduced to the Design Brief for the unit. They do an Internet search to find out about Galloping Gertie and what caused the bridge to fail.

Educational Objectives:

  • The students will read and discuss a design brief.
  • The students will use a search engine ( to find information.
  • The students will identify and list events that caused the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to collapse.
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 112.3.2(D) Communicate valid conclusions.
  • 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.
  • Explorer's Notebook, page 1
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
Advanced Preparation:
  • Duplicate a copy of the Explorer's Notebook for each student.
  • Write the Design Brief on a piece of chart paper. Entitle the chart No Galloping Gerties Allowed. Design and construct a bridge to span a 30 cm gap and hold as many golf balls as possible. You may only use masking tape, artstraws, yarn and poster board in constructing your bridge. You may have an unlimited amount of glue. You will have a limited amount of "money" to spend on the other materials for your bridge.
  • Turn on the computers and start Netscape or Internet Explorer.
  1. Review the classroom rules with the students: Be careful; Take care of property and equipment; and Stay on Task. Review the consequences for breaking the rules with the class: First offense-verbal warning; Second offense-sign book, sit out remainder of class period; Third offense-sign book, sit out remainder of class period, call parent; Fourth offense-sign book, sit out remainder of class period, call parent, sit out remainder of the unit in another classroom.
  2. Read over and discuss the design brief with the students. Ask, If I gave you the materials for your bridge right now, do you think you could build it? Why or why not? Before we begin building our bridge, we are going to investigate how to make our bridges stronger and more stable.
  3. Point out the title of the unit, No Galloping Gerties Allowed. Say, When I read the title of the chart, I saw a lot of puzzled looks. I don't want any Galloping Gerties in this class. Do you know what Galloping Gertie is? We could get an encyclopedia and look it up, but we are going to use technology to make our task easier. We are going to go on the Internet and use a search engine to help us.
  4. Pair students up and let them sit at the computers. Remind them that if the screen saver comes on, they are to move the mouse slightly. Have the students look at the district homepage. Point out the title bar at the top of the page. Call on a volunteer to read the title of the web page. Say, Below the title bar is the menu bar. You should see some words on the menu bar. Those words are File, Edit, View, Go, Communicator, and Help. (The menu bar may have different words, depending on what browser and version of browser being used.) Briefly discuss what these words mean.
  5. Say, Look right below the menu bar. There is a bar with some buttons on it. The first button says Back and has a green picture on it. Does everyone see this button? We use this button when we want to go back to a page we've already looked at. There is also a picture of a house with the word Home on this row. If you click the Home button, it will bring you back to the district home page where we are right now. Right below the Back button, there is a button labeled Bookmark. When have you used a bookmark? (The students will probably say when they were reading a book.) Why do you use a bookmark? A bookmark on the browser is just like a bookmark in a book. It is used to save your place. When you bookmark a page, you can come back to it at another time. Next to the bookmark button is a button that says Location. The white box following the Location Button is the web site or address for this page. Have someone read the address. We will be typing the address for our search engine in this box.
  6. If necessary, review using the mouse or the keyboard to scroll up and down.
  7. Have them follow the directions on page 1 of the Explorer's Notebook. Discuss the answers to the questions as time permits.
Formative Assessment: Explorer's Notebook, page 1



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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