School Project: Royal Gorge Bridge

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.

Here are a few facts about the bridge:

ONLINE VIDEO OF ROYAL GORGE BRIDGE:

SCHOOL PROJECT:

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!


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SUPPLIES NEEDED:  (and these can vary…be creative)

  • 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
  • Glue

PROCEDURE:

  • 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.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS:

  • 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.

COUPON FOR ROYAL GORGE BRIDGE:

School Project or Interest Center: Pearl Harbor & World War II

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(THIS COULD ALSO BE USED AS AN INTEREST CENTER.)

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.

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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.
  • Boy at 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.

School Project: Hanging Gardens of Babylon

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MATERIALS NEEDED:

  • 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
  • Coat hanger
  • Wire cutter to cut the coat hanger

PROCEDURE:

  • 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.
  • Touch up with paint where necessary.