We visited the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado with our teenage son a few years ago, and he was so impressed with the bridge that a couple of years later he chose it for a school project. It is truly an awesome experience to walk across the lengthy bridge, look across towards the majestic mountains, look down into the immense canyon, and then ride the “world’s steepest incline railway” deep down into the canyon and look up at the tiny strand of a bridge that you have just walked across. Pictures do not do it justice! It is one of those “Wow!” experiences.
I wish I had taken pictures throughout all the steps of this project, but time was a factor and I didn’t. Here are some of the few pictures I did take. I am so glad I took these pictures beforehand because his project disappeared from the classroom and we never got it back. It got thrown out with the trash by the janitor along with 20 other projects. Our son received a high grade on this project so at least the teacher did see it!
A large, very sturdy foam (or wood) sheet to form the base for the project
Large empty cereal boxes to form the brown walls on either side of the canyon
Newspapers to make paper mache slopes and texture for the inside of the canyon
Brown craft paint to cover the paper mache slopes
Brown construction paper to cover the outside portions of the cereal boxes that are not in the canyon (and any part of the cereal boxes showing that are not part of the canyon) OR brown paint. We found it easier and quicker to use brown construction paper.
Popsicle sticks to glue together to make the base for the road part of the bridge
Flat toothpicks to make the bridge slats over the top of the Popsicle sticks
Wooden dowel rods and other small wooden pieces from a craft store
Lightweight craft wire to make the cable wires for the bridge
Silver Sharpie Permanent Marker or silver spray paint (for the wooden pieces)
Heavy duty tape such as duct tape
Newspapers to make paper mache
If you have never visited Royal Gorge, then I suggest watching the Online Video to give you a better idea of what the bridge looks like.
Using duct tape or something similar, tape the cereal boxes in place along the two long edges of the thick foam or wooden base. This forms the canyon.
Make paper mache out of newspapers, glue and water. Use paper mache to make the slopes on the inside of the cereal boxes to make the canyon walls.
Paint the paper mache canyon walls and floor of the canyon with brown craft paint.
Paint the outside of the cereal boxes with brown paint or cover with brown construction paper. (we used construction paper)
Use blue craft paint or blue plastic wrap to form the river at the bottom of the canyon.
Depending on what wooden pieces you find at the craft or hobby store, look at the picture of the bridge and use your creativity to use items from the hobby shop to approximate the dimensions to scale in your model. Color the wood with silver to represent the metal parts of the bridge.
Glue the Popsicle sticks end to end and then lay “slats” made from flat toothpicks (cut in half or thirds) across the sticks to form the part of the bridge that cars drive across. (This is very time consuming and you might come up with a different idea.)
Use the craft wire to form the cables on the bridge.
Royal Gorge Bridge, “Building World Landmarks” Series, by Margaret Yuan. Good for ages 7-14. Describes the techniques and difficulties in building the bridge.
America’s Top 10 Bridges by Edward Ricciuti. Good for ages 7-12. The Royal Gorge Bridge is included in the 10.
“WHICH TYPE OF PAPER IS BEST FOR MAKING RECYCLED PAPER?”
On the left side of the project board is the “Procedure” with drawings underneath illustrating the experiment. (Photos could have been used here.) In the middle of the board is the title, “Purpose,” and “Hypothesis.” On the left side are the “Results” and “Conclusion.”
Science Fair Projects are a great way for students to learn outside the classroom as well as in the classroom. Our own children worked on various projects through the years, and we were involved to some extent in each project. Projects are a great way to encourage parental involvement as parents help gather materials and give advice from time to time. But sometimes finding the time to work on an extended project is hard. Here are some easy project ideas when time is a factor:
How does the type of light affect water’s evaporation rate?
I think that (place your own hypothesis here).
(Your materials might be a little different. Use what you have.)
Eleven 9 ounce Solo cups
One Sharpie marker
Fill five cups with an equal amount of water, labeling the cups A-E.
Place cups in different places around the house.
Wait four days and then mark the water level.
Repeat steps 1-3 using five different cups labeled A2-E2. Put cups in the exact same places as the first five cups. Place A2 cup where A had been, etc.
After four more days, weigh each of the ten cups with the water in them, including a control cup with the original amount of water.
Average the two trials for each cup (A & A2, etc.) and calculate the percentages to see how much water evaporated.
(Fill in the blanks with the percentages you got from your calculations.)
Cup A: ____% evaporated
Cup B: ____% evaporated
Cup C: ____% evaporated
Cup D: ____% evaporated
Cup E: ____% evaporated
My hypothesis was supported by my experiment: (Place your own conclusion here.)
Type out the Problem, Hypothesis, and Experiment, etc., and display on left side of board. In the middle section, have the title of the project and photos or sketches of the cups of water and where they were placed. Also, graphs can be made on the computer displaying the results of the experiment. On the right side of the board, display the Results and your Conclusion.
This is a very interesting project! I imagine most people know someone who lived through WWII and have heard stories of what life was like during that period in history. What made this particular project interesting was that the student (actually my son) interviewed several people who lived during this time period. He received first hand information about what life was like and how so many people pulled together for the good of our country, even though they had to ration items and do without some items. Interviewing these people helped make this project come alive for him. We knew someone whose best friend was killed at Pearl Harbor on the USS Arizona. It was such a sad time in history for all those involved!
Another interesting factor was that we had actually been to Pearl Harbor, saw the short movie (which made it seem like we were really there and brought tears to my eyes), went through the museum, and bought memorabilia such as a copy of the newspaper which showed the headline “WAR!”
TIPS FOR THIS PROJECT:
Interview people who lived through WWII and get a first hand account of what it was like.
Get copies of pictures of people who served in the war to add to the project.
Read children’s books about Pearl Harbor. See list below.
CHILDREN’S BOOKS ON PEARL HARBOR:
Pearl Harbor: A Primary Source History by Jacqueline Laks Gorman. Good for ages 8-12.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor (Cornerstones of Freedom Series) by Tom McGowen. Good for ages 9-11.
Attack on Pearl Harbor by Shelley Tanaka. Good for ages 10+.
Air Raid – Pearl Harbor!: The Story of December 7, 1941 by Theodore Taylor. Good for ages 12 and up.
Boyat War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Harry Mazer & Triston Elwell. Good for ages 12 and up.
Pearl Harbor: Day of Infamy by Stephanie Fitzgerald. Good for ages 12 and up.
Most kids are fascinated with volcanoes. When teaching about them, it is important to let kids make a volcano, have good pictures of real volcanoes, and if possible, a video, since most students are not able to take a field trip to actually see one. If you are fortunate to be on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, then you can hike up to the top of Diamond Head, an extinct volcano. We did this, and it was quite impressive. Or you can visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, which we also did, and you might get to see an actual lava flow. We didn’t get close enough to see a lava flow, but we did walk through the Thurston Lava Tube which was very interesting.
Here is a book we own that has many great pictures of volcanoes:
Use a large pan, 9 x 13. Place an empty 16 ounce bottle in the middle of it with the top off.
Using either papier mache, modeling clay, or salt play dough, make a mountain with vertical ridges around the bottle. Do not cover the top of the bottle. Paint brown and let dry.
Mix 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap and 1 tablespoon baking soda in a cup and carefully pour into the bottle in the middle of the mountain. (If you’re brave, you can add a few drops of red or orange food coloring in with the soap and baking soda.)
Place the pan with the mountain outside. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the bottle and stand back. Your volcano will erupt!
For ESL students, be sure and label everything.
For Gifted students, ask higher level questions. There is a chemical reaction when the baking soda and vinegar are mixed. It produces a carbon dioxide gas (a chemical reaction) which is the same gas that a real volcano produces.
Kit: Volcano Island – Discovery Extreme Light and Sound Rumbling Volcano by Poof Slinky
Our Amazing Volcanoes / Earth Science Kit by Poof Slinky
Large piece of heavy cardboard or plastic foam for the base
Assortment of cardboard boxes to form the levels of the garden
Heavy-duty tape to tape the boxes together
Modeling clay – white
Acrylic paint – blue & green
Piece of plastic greenery that has many small removable pieces on it
Wire cutter to cut the coat hanger
Make the basic shape of the varying levels with the assorment of boxes that you have.
Tape them together securely with heavy-duty tape
Tape the boxes securely to the base
Cover the entire area of the boxes with white modeling clay
Remove many small pieces of greenery from the large piece. Shorten if necessary. Place in rows in the modeling clay while the clay is still soft, securing with a small mound of clay at the base of each piece of greenery (tree).
Paint the green grass in rows.
Paint the blue waterfall, stream, and pond of water.
Cut the coat hanger to make the irrigation line to take water to the top level. Bend the coat hanger two inches from the end at a 90 angle to make the coat hanger not touch the ground. Do this on both ends of the coat hanger. Secure both ends of the coat hanger to the project with a mound of modeling clay.