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Mt. Abraham Union High School's Applied Architecture II Class
Studies Covered Bridges
Paul Stetson, Instructor
The Assignment- Working in groups of three, build a 1:24 scale model of a covered
bridge in our area.
Kate Pellegrini, Applied Architecture II - Shelburne Museum Bridge - The bridge
project was very interesting and integrated building the bridge in the
woodshop with finding mathematical formulae, drawing and constructing a "to-scale" model. The
process began back in September with a 'Vermont Covered Bridges" field trip.
Shelburne Museum Bridge's top
section (on side)
resting against the rest of the model bridge
Back in September, the class visited five
Vermont covered bridges. Our job was to learn about each bridge by taking measurements of
each covered bridge. We visited the Quinlan, Sequin, Charlotte, Shelburne Museum and the Lake
Shore bridge. We found a lot of similarities and differences between the bridge's sizes,
constructions, trusses, arches and materials used. Each group of two or three people blindly
picked a bridge. We picked the Shelburne Museum bridge.
When we returned to school, the project
was continued by deriving a formula of 1':2". Every measured chord and beam was adjusted to
scale and those were the measurements that we would use for the building of the bridge.
The Shelburne Museum bridge was a
two lane bridge with a gate and a covered walkway. We created several drawings of the bridge.
They included a portal (opening) view, views of the floor, ceiling truss, and side arches from the
point of inside the bridge. We also had a side view, top and bottom view from standing outside of
the bridge. The drawings were drawn to the same scale as the model so that the width and length
of different pieces would be the exact, length and width as the pieces of wood for the model we're
building. (This was convenient for this way, materials could be laid right on top of the
Finished Shelburne Museum Bridge
build by Lindsay Spaulding,
Kate Pellegrini, and Darin Griner at a scale of 1:24
The Shelburne Museum Bridge had a
kingpost with a burr arch. To secure materials, we used a variety of methods including glue, nails,
and dowels. My group members were Darin and Lindsay. We started off by building the floor of
the bridge. While we nailed dowels in, we also cut the dowel pieces to size and then chiseled off
the excess that stuck out of the bridge. Then we started to construct the roof truss. These pieces
were a little. harder to fit properly because the middle chords ran at angles, and the chords had to
be constantly sanded down to the appropriate sizes. After we built the walkway's roof truss. This
was a hard piece of the project because the chords were very thin and had to be viced but they
consistently slipped from their place. Next, we worked on finding the height and angles of the
roof's slope. This was hard because, pieces again had to be sanded at angles so that they fit
together at a point. Each triangular piece had to fit at the same point as the others. Then we
attached the triangular pieces on each crossing ceiling beam and then hammered varying lengths
of 3/8" wood in tiered fashion as shingles across the roof.
We used many techniques to build the
bridges and the bridge was constructed in multiple kingpost with a burr arch. It's finally done and
it was a great project. Ω
Lake Shore Bridge built by Zach
Levi Lindblad, and Leon Saourn
Lindsay Spaulding - When we started this project, we took a field trip to the
Charlotte area and took measurements of all the bridges and made sketches. After we compiled all
ofour measurements and sketches, we selected a bridge to build.
Our "lucky" group got stuck with the
Shelburne Museum bridge, one of the only double lane bridges in the state. In addition to the
double lanes, our bridge also had a walking path.
Once back at school, we drew several
drawings of our bridge in the scale that was decided. We drew side, front, and underneath views.
We also had to draw the truss looking at it from the inside and a view looking up at the supports
in the ceiling sections.
When we started the construction of our
bridge, we first made the floor level. We followed the same patterns that other groups used
because we couldn't get underneath the bridge to view the structure. Next, we made the ceiling
section. I started on the floor boards, nailing each strip of wood to the floor structure. Kate
worked on the roof trusses, while Darin began the four main trusses. We all switched back and
forth and worked on different jobs.
Quinlan Bridge built by Tyson Rotax,
Curtis Layn, and Mark Holbrook
More recently, Darin and I completed
the trusses with the vertical kingposts and the corresponding diagonals. Next Darin nailed the
trusses into place on the floor boards, while I finished the shingles on the roof. I worked on the
weather boarding on the sides and Darin has been working on the foot path. The foot path seems
to be its own little bridge in itself.
It's hard to say that I only worked on
one section of our bridge, because we all worked on different sections. I nailed the floor boarding,
made two of the four trusses, and finished the shingles. I also worked with Kate on the entire roof
structure. This project was very interesting. I enjoyed building one of the LARGEST bridges in
Vermont, even though at times it was very frustrating. [This was part of their
final exam. They had to tell me what they did in the building process - Paul Stetson]
Lindsay Spaulding (continued) - The covered bridge project that my Applied
Architecture 2 class worked on was very time consuming, but also interesting. In the fall, our
class went out on a trip to five local covered bridges. We measured and wrote down the
dimensions of the different parts of the bridge. Once back at school we drew a series of five
drawings to follow when we began the construction process.
Sequin Bridge built by Andrew
Graham Huber, and Marcus Denice
The construction of our bridge (the
Shelburne Museum Bridge) was difficult but when it was computed it didn't seem that long. With
two other students working with me, all the pieces fit together making a beautiful structure.
This project was one that I'll never
forget. To spend an entire semester building a covered bridge was truly amazing. The finished
project is something I'll keep for a lifetime. There's more to covered bridges than just wood.
Covered Bridge Project Review By Heidi Neil - The covered bridge
project was good. I didn't like the fact that we had to do drawings, thought they took too much
time. I liked actually working on the bridges, although they took a lot of time.
Spade Farm Bridge build by Heidi
Chris Gale, and Dan Quiet.
I liked learning about the bridges; some
of the stuff that we learned about was really interesting. I also liked going and looking at the
bridges, although I wish we could have had more time to take measurements. I thought it was a
good idea for us to take measurements of all the bridges, so that we would not just fool around
while we were looking at the other bridges. I thought that it was a good project though. I really
enjoyed it. Ω
A Word From Instructor Paul Stetson - The Applied Architecture courses at Mt.
Abraham use a "hands- on" approach to study the field of Architecture. In Applied Architecture I,
students complete units on: Geometric Shapes in Buildings, a study of famous architects including
Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, designing a Dream House, designing a Mouse House,
Structures, Roller Coasters, interior design, and Tree Houses. Students felt there was a need for a
second level of the course so they approached me to develop one.
Construction of the Sequin Bridge.
The Vermont Standards that these
courses assesses include: 1.15 Speaking; 2.2 and 2.3 Problem Solving; 6.4 Historical Connections;
7.7aaa Geometric and Measurement concepts; and 7.19 Designing Solutions.
This is the first year the Applied
Architecture II class is being offered. I have always had an interest in the design and history of
covered bridges and felt this would be a good topic to explore. I also wanted to combine drawing
and design work with the actual building of scale models.
The Covered Bridge unit began with a
discussion of the essential questions: Why were bridges covered? What is the Vermont folklore
about covered bridges? How are covered bridges built? How many covered bridges are left in
Vermont?. Along with the class discussions, students also searched the Internet to find answers to
We next discussed the vocabulary
related to covered bridges. This included names of building members and tools used. We also
studied the different truss systems used in the bridges. Many thanks to Joe Nelson and Ed Barna
for the information they included in their books on covered bridges.
In early September we took an all day
field trip to the five covered bridges in the Shelburne, Charlotte, Ferrisburg area. Students were
divided into groups of three and were given tape measures and paper. They proceeded to sketch
and measure each building member in the five bridges we visited. On the way back to school we
had a drawing to see which group would build which bridge.
The next few class periods (80 minute
blocks), students worked on a set of drawings for their bridge. Using a scale of 1:24, they drew
the floor system from underneath the bridge, the truss used to support the bridge drawn from
inside the bridge, the exterior side of the bridge, the portal opening, and the ceiling framework
drawn looking up while standing on the bridge.
Once the drawings were complete, we
moved the class to the woodshop and began the construction of the bridges. Students were taught
the safety rules of the shop and how to operate the machines. They wanted to make the models as
authentic as possible so they pinned many of the pieces together using small dowels.
The students deserve a lot of credit for
working through problems in construction. Through this unit, they learned the history and
construction techniques of building covered bridges. Many students commented on how hard it
must have been to build these bridges at full scale. They also learned to work together as a team
to create some very impressive models. Ω
Students take measurements of each building member of
the Lake Shore bridge (upper right and above left)
and Spade Farm bridge (above
Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267, firstname.lastname@example.org
Students begin the process of
building scale models of five
Vermont Covered Bridges using a scale of 1:24 (above and left).
No part of this web site may be reproduced without the written permission of Joseph C.
Copyright © 2001, Paul Stetson
This file posted April 3, 2001