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Bridges and Towers

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Building model bridges from balsa wood is a great way to get students engaged in technology, science, and engineering principles. This Getting Started package includes materials for 25 students, testing equipment, and curriculum to get your classroom into bridge building.


Do you have some budding engineers in your home? Use these materials to teach them about tension, force, ratios, efficiency, and truss design as they build and test their own model toothpick bridge.

Includes 800 square toothpicks, 2 oz bottle each of blue and green glue, and the Toothpick Bridges Teacher’s Guide. Requires a hobby knife, waxed paper, tape, and testing device, sold separately.


Bridges and towers support and connect our world in many ways – and understanding these structures will support your child’s learning potential. Building these models incorporates structural and civil engineering concepts. Testing them, however, shows how important good design and construction are!

Includes the Balsa Wood Strips (enough for 10 structures), 32-oz Green Structures Glue, two empty glue bottles with twist-open caps, Model Bridges book, The Pitsco Bridge Book, and Towers book. Requires  foam board, pins, small clips such as binder clips, waxed paper, tape, and a testing device, sold separately.


Even young students can learn some of the concepts of engineering used to create fascinating structures and do projects that help them apply the concepts. They will learn about:

  • Geodesic dome buildings and then build their own dome from mini marshmallows and toothpicks.
  • Roman arches and then assemble one from sugar cubes and glue.
  • Liquefaction, seismology, aquifers, corrosion, Newton's third law of motion, and much more!

The book features 25 hands-on projects and a glossary.


For beginners of straw, toothpick, or balsa wood structure activities, the Dr. Zoon Straw Structures Video and Dr. Zoon Toothpick Bridges Video build students' understanding of structures, design, and geometric shapes. For more advanced coverage of these concepts, as well as forces and construction techniques, we've included the Dr. Zoon Bridge Building Video and Dr. Zoon Tower Building Video. All programs cover construction, tips, and explanation of concepts.


For teachers wanting to go further into materials testing, we’ve got the perfect piece of equipment. The Materials Deflection Tester brings accurate measurement to testing various materials. Want to know whether laminated balsa wood bends more or less than plain balsa wood? If aluminum bends more than steel? It’s easy with this tester.

Just place the material in the clamp and on top of the metric dial indicator plunger, zero the indicator, place the desired weights on top, and read the amount of deflection on the dial. You can test materials using a point load and several support types including cantilever, fixed, simple, and roller, and you can move the weight to different areas of the materials, such as the center versus the middle.

Tests material up to 1' L x 1-1/4" W x 3/4" H with a maximum deflection of 0.78". Comes with 500 grams of masses for testing. No assembly required.


Attached to the Structures Testing Instrument, this tester enables you to test trusses built from balsa wood up to 1/4" as well as basswood up to 3/16". Or test double- or triple-width trusses.

Holds trusses up to 5-1/2" tall. Comes with blocks to firmly hold in place triangular trusses with 15°, 20°, 25°, and 30° angles.


A strong truss makes a strong bridge or roof. So testing a truss design before building an entire model bridge or roof makes sense – and now you can do that with the Balsa Truss Tester. It works with either a hanging weight or on the Structures Testing Instrument (with the Balsa Truss Tester Adapter), sold separately.

Designed specifically for trusses made from 1/8" balsa wood, this tester adjusts for trusses up to 4" tall and 12" wide. It has two different load blocks: one adjusts to four different angles (15°, 20°, 25°, and 30°) for triangular trusses, and the other is square for flat-topped trusses.

Made of colored acrylic, the tester's clear acrylic shield keeps trusses securely in place for testing while offering protection from splintering wood. Comes assembled.


This adapter enables you to use the Balsa Truss Tester with the Structures Testing Instrument.


No time to build a regular-size toothpick bridge? Cover some of the same structural concepts in a fraction of the time with this kit. Includes toothpicks and instructions for one small bridge. Requires white glue and waxed paper, sold separately.

Pitsco’s Try This kits are designed as quick and easy activities that show some of the basic concepts of larger projects. This kit should take 30 minutes or less to construct.


Go 3-D with your structure building! The Magnetic Build Fixture enables students to build model structures such as bridges vertically as well as horizontally.

Tape your building drawing onto the galvanized metal plate, place the magnetic angle plates along the drawing lines, and start building by placing additional magnets on the angle plates where needed to hold structural members for gluing. The angle plates can also help keep members at right angles.

The plate fits perfectly into Pitsco’s Construction Caddy II, sold separately. Includes 50 Rectangular Ceramic Magnets.


The Finding Out About Structures teacher’s book features a rather comprehensive exploration of building structures, cantilever and arch structures, and suspension bridges. It includes everything you need to introduce students to the design process and teach them how to build various structures including a suspension bridge.

The Building Structures student book, also included, provides a foundation in the properties of materials and the basics of bridge design. Topics include experimenting with sheet materials, calculating load distribution, and bridge building. Students explore arch structures and build a skywalk.

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