Bridges are amazing structures that take years to design and build. The process includes architects, engineers, and construction workers. Not only is the safety of the bridge important, there are also aesthetic factors in play. The design of the bridge will be based on its location, whether it will be used for pedestrian or vehicle traffic, how much of either type of traffic will cross it each day, and what structures are around the bridge. It is a complicated process that, hopefully, results in a safe, attractive piece of architecture.
Without the proper education and design experience, you will be unable to design or build a bridge. However, you can build a model bridge with relatively little knowledge or experience. Model bridges are typically made of wood, but there are other materials you can use. The easiest type of model bridge to build is one made of popsicle sticks. The materials are inexpensive and easy to work with, but you still end up with a sturdy craft project when you are finished.
Gather Your Bridge Building Materials
Begin by gathering your materials. You will need hot glue and a hot glue gun (wood glue can also be used, but it takes longer to dry), popsicle sticks, plastic clothes pins, scissors, and paint. Create a basic design for your bridge before you begin to build. This helps you visualize your project and determine if there are any issues with the design in advance. This is also the time to determine the size of the bridge. This helps you determine the amount of materials needed.
Build the Bridge’s Base and Cover
Work on a surface that is large enough to accommodate your entire project. Lay popsicle sticks parallel to each other to equal the length of the bridge. This should look similar to the sides of two railroad tracks. Glue each strand of sticks together with hot glue. You might need to use clothespins to hold the sticks in place until the glue dries. When you are finished, you will have four long strands of sticks. You have now created the top and bottom frames of the bridge.
Line up two of the strands with a vertical space of three inches between them. Place single popsicle sticks across the horizontal strands, connecting the two. Glue these in place. At this point, you have created the base of the bridge. Repeat this step with the two other strands to create the cover of the bridge.
These two structures can be connected with additional sticks. You can glue them vertically or diagonally to the sides of each of the structures. You might also want to wrap the connecting points with string to create a reinforced connection. At this point, you have created a very basic covered bridge.
Elevate the Bridge
Most people choose to elevate their bridges with additional sticks. As in the case of a real bridge, there are several methods for creating elevation. Larger bridges should sit on columns created with popsicle sticks. These columns create a very sturdy base and prevent the bridge from buckling. It is also possible to create pillars by criss-crossing the sticks and securing them beneath the base of the bridge. This is architecturally more interesting, but it is not as sturdy.
As you build your bridge, play around with the design to find something that is aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting. You can also paint or decorate your bridge when you have finished constructing it.