Lesson 1: Arch and beam bridges

Children develop their understanding of structures by investigating how different shapes affect their strength.

Before the lesson

Download classroom resources

Learning objectives

  • To explore how to reinforce a beam (structure) to improve its strength

National curriculum

Pupils should be taught to:

  • Generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through discussion and prototypes
  • Select from and use a wider range of materials, components and construction materials according to their functional properties and aesthetics
  • Investigate and analyse a range of existing products
  • Apply their understanding of how to strengthen, stiffen and reinforce more complex structures

Success criteria

Cross-curricular links

Attention grabber

Main event


Pupils needing extra support: Can make fewer structures and test them, drawing simple conclusions. Use your demonstration piece as a visual model whilst they build a bridge design and provide verbal cues to guide their thinking if they are struggling to see other ways to improve the structure. Use slide 10 from the Presentation: Arch and beam bridges to share example answers on the Activity: Bridge design development sheet.

Pupils working at greater depth:
Should make a wider range of different structures and test them, drawing meaningful conclusions, identifying specific areas of weakness or strength. Provide with extra bridge design development sheets if they have already made a beam, arch, laminated and corrugated bridge beam to include their own ideas and designs.


Wrapping up

Assessing pupils' progression and understanding


Created by:
Kapow Primary, 
Design & Technology specialist