Fancy a challenge?

Dry spaghetti is very brittle and breaks easily, but by gluing the strands together to create different shapes, you can make a model bridge that can hold a surprising amount of weight. Students of all ages compete in spaghetti bridge-building contests every year. Part of the fun of building a spaghetti bridge is adding weight to it until it collapses in a shower of spaghetti pieces.

Things You’ll Need

  • Graph paper, pencil and ruler
  • Clear plastic film
  • 2 pounds of dried spaghetti
  • Craft glue or hot glue (for older students)
  • Rubber bands
  • Small weights such as coins, model cars or sacks of sand
  • Container for weights
  • Lightweight metal hanger
  • Scale
  • Camera

Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 1.jpg

  1. Determine the length your bridge will span. You can build your bridge across 2 tables or build a structure out of wood to place your bridge on. It’s usually best to build the structure so that you can hang a container of some type underneath the bridgeBuild a Spaghetti Bridge Step 2.jpg
  2. Design your bridge on a sheet of graph paper first. Cover the paper with a clear plastic film and use it as a template. Lay the spaghetti strands over your drawn design to cut them to the right length and glue them together.
     Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 3.jpg
  3. Make use of trusses to make your bridge stronger. Trusses are triangle-shaped support beams that attach point-side down to the roadbed of the bridge on either side. Attach the trusses to each other with glue. Trusses distribute the forces of the weight you will add to the bridge.
     Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 4.jpg
  4. Create the roadbed. You can do this by gluing several layers of spaghetti to each other to make a thick, flat roadbed. Or, you may want to leave the strands unglued in some layers so they will naturally move and help redistribute the weight.
     Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 5.jpg
  5. Attach the trusses to each side of the roadbed and to the trusses on the other side. The finished bridge will have a roadbed on the bottom with trusses rising above on both sides, like walls and a roof.
     Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 6.jpg
  6. Weigh your bridge. Rather than set the bridge itself on the scale, set it on something stable like a box and weigh both. Subtract the weight of the box. Or, you can use 2 scales, placing 1 underneath each edge of the bridge, and add the weights together.
     Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 7.jpg
  7. Set the bridge in place and hang a lightweight container under the center.Depending on the size of the bridge, this can be as small as the corner of an envelope to a small plastic bucket.
     Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 8.jpg
  8. Add weight to the container a little at a time. Take care not to jar the bridge or cause the container to swing. This can be a very nerve-wracking process.
     Build a Spaghetti Bridge Step 9.jpg
  9. Wait for the bridge to collapse. Determine how much weight the bridge held.

 


Compete in the spaghetti bridge-building – Have a Go – Let us know much weight you can add until BANG!