Saturday, 26 December 2009

Newspaper Bridges

The topic this week was Enterprise. We started the session by discussing bridges, where we’ve seen them, who uses them, why they use them and so on. Once we’d established the purpose and meaning of bridges I set the task that I’d researched from

Using only one roll of Selotape and 2 broadsheet newspapers the students had to make a free-standing bridge that spans over 1 foot, is high enough to roll a roll of selotape under it and is strong enough to take the weight of a coffee jar filled with water.

This team building exercise provided a great opportunity to see the creative skills and imagination of the students and how they responded to the challenge. We discussed how it would be possible to strengthen the newspaper to make it stronger and we set clear rules about what students could and couldn’t do – i.e. you can’t selotape the bridge to the table.

The constructions proved to be very interesting.

After I had encouraged the students to refelct on their participation, achievements and learning we discussed where the ideas had come from.

One student said they had come from his mind. This was the link in to inventions and creativity that I was looking for.

We then watched a short video about inventions from the 80’s – Best inventions of the 80's and visited this amazing site that shows the ever growing web-based media world social media count

We completed the session by discussing the many inventions that we benefit from, living in the modern world.


  1. Hey! We did this too as part of Global Entreneurship Week. I always find it hard to draw out my students' creativity and to convince of them of the value of creative thinking. Do you think it's mainly due to different educational styles in other countries? Or lack of formal eduaction at all?

  2. Hi Starryargenta!

    I share this experience with you. My students, who come from a huge range of different countries, also seem to lack the creative thinking necessary to complete tasks like this.

    I sometimes think it is linked to their previous experience in education but perhaps it is also linked to a desire not to disappoint their teacher?

    Could they be worried that they will 'get it wrong'? I find that giving the students some ideas before setting the task helps. Also restricting the amount of newspaper and selotape is important. This makes them focus more on the task.

    The most important thing is to look forward and encourage the students to try different ideas. If they don't have any experience of creative thinking, now is the time to start!!!

    Maybe show them the video I have made next time
    Newspaper Bridges

  3. I've got a mixture of under 19s and adults at Entry 3. I found that giving them a clear set of criteria at the beginning is crucial and helped to focus them and convince them it wasn't a waste of time! I told them I'd be monitoring how they communicated with each other and planned the task etc. Most of the groups were proud of their efforts and only one failed to produce a structure at all - but even they found it interesting to analyse where they went wrong...and it was very interesting for me to see how groups worked together. Tasks like this can really reveal a side of students that you might not otherwise see.

  4. Hi MisterMike - did you impose the 'silence' rule, and add jittery music? i would think that this would increase the stress of the activity. I'm thinking about using it myself for an interethnic dialogue exercise in a post-conflict country, and was considering taking this part out. Would love to hear your thoughts. - Jenna

  5. Hi Jenna, thanks for your comment.

    I didn't enforce a silence rule, as I wanted to observe the students interacting and communicating as they all come from different countries and they are attending the sessions to improve their language and social skills.

    I also wanted to see which students were natural leaders, which were dominant and submissive, and which students had creative and thoughtful ideas. It was also interesting to see how those ideas manifested and at what stage of the activity.

    I added the music after making the video as this made it more interesting.

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