This week my science club studied bridges. After a quick video explaining three different types of bridges and the strength of triangles, it was time to get to work. I gave each table a stack of paper and a couple of rolls of masking tape. I explained that we'd have space up front for them to test their bridges, and that I had brought in encyclopedias to use for testing.
Child: "What's an encyclopedia?"
Me: "It's like Google, but in a book instead."
It was fun to watch how invested the adults were in this project. Many figured out pretty quickly that rolling the paper into tubes would help, and that extra tight/thin tubes made of multiple sheets of paper were probably the best way to go. They then used these tubes to make the parts of their bridges, and finally brought their bridges up front to test them.
Because this was a labor-intensive experiment, I asked the patrons to work together as a table, and it was neat to see different families working together to create their bridges. In the end, happy children tested their bridges and carried them out the door, most with assurances that they were taking them home "to make them even stronger."