small text medium text large text
Super Science @ Your Library
image of a light bulb

Inventors and Inventions


Children will learn about the different types of bridge structures, the inventor John Roebling and his contribution to the bridges of Pittsburgh and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Grade Level: 3-5



Curlee, Lynn
Brooklyn Bridge
Describes the planning, construction, and history of the Brooklyn Bridge, celebrated as one of the greatest landmarks and grandest sights of New York City.
Gangewere, Robert J.
The Bridges of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County
"An introduction to bridges for the general reader, with examples from western Pennsylvania's rich tradition of bridge-building."
Giff, Patricia
Water Street
In the shadow of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, eighth-graders and new neighbors Bird Mallon and Thomas Neary make some decisions about what they want to do with their lives.
Johmann, Carol
Bridges! Amazing Structures to Design, Build and Test
Describes different kinds of bridges, their history, design, construction, and effects on populations, environmental dilemmas, safety, and more.


Build a Bridge

Materials: Marshmallows, Toothpicks
Give children toothpicks and marshmallows and let them build a bridge. Talk about what shapes will work best to make the bridge sturdy and strong. Find images of different bridges structures to get ideas, especially a truss bridge. Truss bridges use triangular shapes, called tetrahedrons, to form their structure. See if tetrahedrons can be used when making your toothpick bridge!



Arch: Uses the principle of a high arch, either above the deck or below. The arch has a natural strength by distributing the weight through compression, pressing against its ends, which must be anchored to the ground with foundations. (Fort Pitt Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA)

Beam: Are the simplest type, for example a plank over a stream. Each end rests on a firm foundation. For longer distances it rests on multiple piers. (Veterans Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA)

Bridge: a structure that allows people or vehicles to cross an obstacle such as a river or canal or railway etc.

Engineering: The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems.

Suspension: a bridge that has a roadway supported by cables that are anchored at both ends

Truss: A structure of triangular-shaped forms which support the weight of the bridges as well as the load of traffic. (Smithfield Street Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA)


Additional Resources: