Structure WebQuest - Teacher Notes

Frequently Asked Questions - Structures

[Introduction] [Task] [Process] [Resources] [Evaluation] [Conclusion]

  1. When is a good time in the year to do this project and how long does it take?
  2. I've used this project in the first week of geometry. This way it gets students thinking outside of the book right away (especially since I donít give them one before the project) and learning how to use other resources. It gives me time to get to know my students and watch them work. They learn some "real world" geometry that will be really nicely integrated throughout the entire year. Students will have a new appreciation for a math course and hands-on projects. Plan on 8 days for the students to do the research, plan their structures, and construct their structures and do the testing. You won't regret the time spent once you see the excitement and interest that grows throughout this project! It makes the rest of the geometry go more smoothly, it goes quicker in some places, and makes more sense to students when you can refer back to things that they learned in the Structures Project.

  3. What is the sequence of activities for this project?

Day 1: (a Thursday is a great day to start this project on),

Day 2:

Day 3:

Days 4-7 :

Day 8 (This may or may not be directly after day 7 because of drying times.)

  1. How do I divide up 125 students into teams? How many per team works best?

Groups of 4 or 5 work well. Are all of your students in one class period? If so, testing will take some time! If that's the case, maybe increase the size of the group to 8-10. Groups of 4 or 5 give more variety and require more active participation by all students in the team to complete it in the time allowed! I have done this where I have required 25 students to work together to make one structure. The only problem with that is that you don't get the variety but you do see how well they work together!

(4) Do you provide the file folders or do they purchase those themselves?

My school has them available to us. I give each student one to experiment with first and then give them the ones for the project to make sure that they are all the same weight file folder. Note: There are all sorts of them in the stores - some stronger than others! It's important that they all be the same to make the competition fair.

(5) Can teams cut the folders?

YES...they can cut them and use Elmer's white glue. I do let them use paper clips to hold the folders together while they dry but they must remove all of them before testing. Drawing folding lines with a pen (pressing hard) can help when students want to fold the file folders.

(6) I know you said to use weights to measure the strength of the structure, but what weights and by what increments do I increase?  I have access to weights from our football weight room, but the smallest weight is a 2.5 lb.

Note: The most weight held by any team's structure so far is 440 lbs.! The height record is 30 inches.

(7) What resources are there for this project?

I found an awesome book after doing this project for many years:

The Art of Construction: Projects and Principles for Beginning Engineers and Architects

by Mario Salvadori. Chicago Review Press, 1990. ISBN 1-55652-080-8

Itís an easy read (for ages 10 and up) with many good examples/experiments of ways to help students (and teachers) understand the principles of construction. It is available in paperback for around $13.

Other good resources are:

Structures: The Way Things are Built by Nigel Hawkes, Macmillan, USA, 1993

ISBN # 0-02-000510-5

Amazing Buildings by Philip Wilkinson, Doriling Kindersley, NewYork, 1993

ISBN # 1-56458-234-5

Why Design? Activities and Projects from the National Building Museum by Anna Slafer

and Kevin Cahill, Chicago Review Press, 1995 ISBN # 1-55652-249-5


Structure WebQuest Evaluation

[Introduction] [Task] [Process] [Resources] [Evaluation] [Conclusion] [Teacher Notes]