Middle School Students Build Bridges Using IB ‘Design Cycle’

During the recently completed fall semester, all seventh- and eighth-grade technology students were tasked to build a bridge using material at a cost of no more than $10. They used what is a central tenet of the International Baccalaureate's technology curriculum, the design cycle. For this project, the main challenge was to design and build a bridge that could hold a heavy weight for a specified minimum amount of time.

The kids, who spent eight weeks on the project, used the Middle Years Programme (MYP) design cycle to research information about bridge construction, materials and cost. The MYP design cycle consists of five stages: investigate, design, plan, create and evaluate, and IB encourages its use to solve problems by stimulating the students’ ingenuity and to encourage them to combine intellectual talents with practical skills.

For the bridge project, each team of four students chose one everyday material (cardboard, PVC pipes, coat hangers, crayons, etc.) to build their bridge. No materials could be duplicated by other teams, which forced the students to be even more creative in their design and construction. Each bridge was to hold a minimum weight of one brick (3 lbs.) for at least two minutes, but some worked so well they actually supported a middle-school student!

Commenting after the projects were complete, one of the eighth-grade "designers" said, “The IB design cycle helped us organize and efficiently work through our project in the smoothest way possible. Especially during the investigation stage, it helped us find exactly what we needed so that we could organize our data."

NDPMA is the only Catholic school in the U.S. offering the International Baccalaureate curriculum to students from junior-kindergarten through high school.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.