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!
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
- 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.