Jericho Elementary School Studies Covered
Wooden Truss Covered Bridges in Vermont
An Enrichment Project Integrating
Vermont History, Language Arts, and Visual/Spatial Skills
Every enrichment project is designed to allow
students areas of personal choice and ways to exercise personal strengths. Mr. Mc Donald's
fourth grade class worked with Mrs. Siller, the enrichment teacher, studying wooden truss
covered Vermont bridges.
The main reference for this unit has been
Time, Vermont's Covered Bridges by Joseph C. Nelson. In addition to detailed blueprints for
various truss designs, there are also beautiful pictures accompanied by historical narratives for all
the remaining covered bridges in Vermont. Each student was provided with a copy of the history
for a bridge that matched their choice of construction techniques for the balsa wood model.
Secondary reference material included several books
by Eric Sloan and an Internet article on the history of covered wooden truss bridges from a global
perspective. The whole class worked together to highlight key information from this article that
was needed to answer the research questions.
Below is a brief description of the components of this
project which were carried out in two weekly forty minute classes over a period of twelve weeks.
- Engineering Principles: This class explored the stability of squares, trapezoids, and triangles
and the relationship of truss design to span length.
- Selecting a Truss Design: Students selected from a menu of materials and truss designs to
create a 2D image of a specific truss.
- Research: Students were given a list of questions that would form the basis of a three
paragraph written report. They were given all necessary resource materials to complete the
Reports included information on the history of wooden truss designs and a specific Vermont
bridge from Joe's book.
- Written Report: students worked simultaneously on the written report and model
- Model Construction: students built balsa wood models to illustrate the selected truss design
as practiced in Vermont with siding and roofing on one side only.
(Text provided by Joyce Siller)