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Build a Mysterious Bridge

Da Vinci Did It, and You Can, Too!

Leonardo da Vinci was a scientist, technician, engineer, and mathematician who studied the world around him. One of his inventions was a bridge designed to be used as an emergency or temporary structure. Building it didn’t require rope, bolts, nails, or any connectors. The design relied on friction and gravity to hold it together, yet it was strong enough for people to climb over it. Want to build Da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge? Let’s do science!

What you need:

• Craft sticks or alternative (such as pencils or dowels). The smallest bridge will require at least twelve pieces, but it could take a lot more.

• A flat, stable surface to build on, like a table or the floor.

What you do:

1.Use four sticks to begin. Place one flat on the table, vertical.

2.Place two sticks horizontally on top of the first stick, so that only the ends are touching the vertical stick.

3.Now, add the fourth stick, vertical. The design should resemble a tic-tac-toe board or a pound sign.

4.Weave two sticks into the center of the structure.

5.Slide a stick under the two newly added sticks. Repeat steps.

6.Test your bridge. How long can you make it? How much weight could it hold? In a log, record the length of the bridge as well as how much weight it holds. Does the length make a difference in the weight it holds?

Hint: Using the same color sticks as you see in the picture may be helpful. Also, it helps to have two people building, as parts of the bridge may start slipping once you get a few sections built. There are several different ways the parts could fit together. Experiment with it! Look up Da Vinci Bridge online for other similar options to try.

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