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How to Build a Strong Popsicle Stick Bridge

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We did a little Engineering project this past week in our house and built a popsicle stick bridge. It was a really fun project to do with the kids. We used colored popsicle sticks and Elmer’s X-Treme School Glue to make the bridges look cool and stay STRONG!

Want a simpler bridge without glue? Try this one!  Also check out my Paper Bridge STEM Engineering experiment!

Engineering Bridges STEM - Popsicle stick bridge Project

Bridge building is a great STEM engineering project for students. It is a simple way to teach about how important structure is to strength. You can build a bridge many different ways, and they will not all be equal. Take this bridge building project a step further by competing with other bridges to see which one hold up the most weight.

Yes, our popsicle bridge is messy and crooked, but my kids had a blast making it and it is strong!

All you need to make this popsicle stick bridge is a good strong glue and some craft sticks. This Elmer’s X-Treme glue worked like a miracle! Wood glue also works great here. You could also use a hot glue gun to speed up drying time.

You’ll also want a strong pair of shears to cut some of the sticks.

Prepare your workspace by laying down some newspaper or a paper plate. It will get messy!

glue and popsicle stick project

How to Build a Popsicle Stick Bridge:

When building the bridge, you need to start with your bridge design. You may want to draw a diagram or a blueprint for your design!

Decide what kind of bridge you want to make.  There are seven different types of bridges: truss bridges, suspension bridges, arch bridges, beam bridges, cantilever brides, cable stayed bridges, and tied-arch bridges.  Today bridges are not just about function, but aesthetics, too!

Grab a ruler and pencil and sketch out your model bridge.

We decided to make a truss bridge with our sticks. A Warren Truss bridge is made with equilateral triangle truss beams that divide out the weight on the bridge. This makes the bridge really strong.

Figure out the dimensions of the bridge you want to build.  Then decide the number of sticks you will need to build it.

For the bridge me made, you will need two rows of popsicle sticks for the bottom base. Start by lining up three popsicle sticks end to end. Glue on two overlapping the seams. Then cut one stick in half to make smaller pieces for the two ends of the bridge.

Repeat this three more times.

making a popsicle stick bridge

You will then make two more with just two popsicle sticks making shorter beams. These are going to make the trusses and will form triangles. Using a 3-stick beam and a 2-stick beam that has mostly dried, attach them with the sticks making a triangular pattern.

Once it dries a for about 15 minutes, flip it over and repeat the triangular pattern on the other side to make it double thick. You will repeat this to make the two trusses for the sides of the bridge.

Truss Bridge with popsicle sticks

The other three-stick beams are to be used as the bottom base of the bridge. Lay them parallel to each other and glue sticks going across the bottom connecting them. This would be the road that the car would drive over if it were a really bridge.

Popsicle Stick Bridge Instructions

Once the base of the popsicle stick bridge is done, glue the side trusses on standing along the edge. I glued it and propped up some books along the side to hold them up while they dried. You could also use some clamps to keep them together. Attach the sides together along the top with another triangular pattern.

Our bridge ended up pretty lopsided, but it still held together amazingly well! My daughter filled in the uneven parts along the bottom with some extra sticks to keep it balanced. This also made it into a much stronger bridge. She was SO proud of her creation!

Take this project a step further to see how much weight it will hold.

This popsicle stick bridge STEM project combines both science and mathematics!

I think this may be the STRONGEST Popsicle Stick Bridge out there!

popsicle stick truss bridge

Learn more about engineering and how real bridges are built with these cool books:

Science of Bridges from Teach Beside Me

Bridges and Tunnels by Donna Latham & Bridges! by Carol A. Johmann

Also check out my Fairy Tale STEM project with the Three Billy Goats Gruff for another idea to make a popsicle stick bridge.

See more science projects for kids.

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