Thursday, September 2, 2010

Building Bridges

A social studies, geography, math, (and more) unit.

Our social studies article for this week, Building Bridges of Hope, was cut from Parade magazine, the little insert that comes in many Sunday newspapers.

In it we read about Ken Frantz and his organization, Bridges to Prosperity, that travels the world building (what else?) bridges in key places.  The bridges built by Frantz's organization allow people in remote and poor areas to more easily access medical help, trade, and other necessities.  These bridges literally change lives.

These bridges also provided a week full of stuff for us to learn!

Some of the following ideas we have already done, others we will do as we finish out our week.  Still others would be ideal for older kids or a longer, more intensive unit.

Science /  Math:
In addition to the Parade article and the Bridges to Prosperity website, we also checked out a bridge book from our library.  It gives a beginning look at bridge types and the science behind their construction.
Search for bridges

We worked on building our own bridges the high-tech way after downloading free bridge design software from West Point.  It's a little advanced for Dale, but he thinks it's fun anyway.  Who am I kidding?  It's over my head and I still think it's fun.  I'm determined to build a bridge that won't collapse!  This software would be great for a highschooler or anyone interested in engineering.  The website even offers an annual bridge-building contest!

After reading the bridge book and practicing with the software, I'm planning on getting out our wooden blocks this afternoon to see what kind of bridges we can build with them, too.

For geography, I printed a world map (with countries).  Together we read the article through again and identified each country in which Bridges to Prosperity has built a bridge.  Consulting our jumbo world atlas, we colored the countries with bridges on our map.  We also used this time to discuss the continents.

Next we will research and find out what missionaries our denomination has in each of those countries.  We will take a moment to mark them on our map and pray for them.

If Dale was a little older, I would have him write a story from the viewpoint of a village child, telling the excitement of the bridge builders coming or how he will be able to use the bridge in his own life.  Or maybe a news story about bridge built by Bridges to Prosperity (you can read about all their bridges on their website).

This unit would be great to learn about historic bridges in the US or around the world.  There are so many out there!

To finish up our mini-unit on bridges, I'm thinking we will choose a picture of a bridge (either one from Bridges to Prosperity or a famous one) and draw it, adding in materials like toothpicks, string, etc to create the bridges.

I know we have only scratched the surface of what could be done with a unit on bridges.  We may have to visit the topic again someday!  If so, this website is full of lesson plan links and ideas, or a simple google search pulls up a multitude of ideas!

What bridge ideas have I missed?  Do you have any favorite unit studies?


Linda Jacobs said...

I want to be a kid, again, and live at your house!

Michelle said...

Have you ever built bridges out of toothpicks and marshmallows? Super fun, and you can also intro 3D shapes!

Hodgepodgemom said...

Visiting from Homeschool Showcase... What a well rounded unit study you've designed!

Laurie said...

I also found you from the Homeschool Showcase- I love your lesson plans! That is a great unit study you put together. :) Thank you for sharing.

Pamela said...

This is great timing for us- we've been in "bridge building" mode since a recent walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks for the ideas and resources!