Science Picture Book: Bridges Go From Here to There


Wilson, F. (1993). Bridges go from here to there. Washington D.C. The Preservation Press.

Plot: Why are arches used in some bridges? What is a truss? Why does a feather float to the ground when it’s dropped and why does an elephant go splat? These are some of the questions that are answered in Bridges Go From Here to There. Author Forest Wilson teaches about the concept of bridge building in a most interesting and comical way. He uses such animals as pigs, elephants and dogs to get his point across. Here is an example, “There are many different ways to fix bent elephants and make bridges longer than stone arches and straight logs. Some takeaways from Wilson’s book are that gravity, mass and weight help bridges work and towers, cables and trusses strengthen bridges. After reading this book, children and adults alike will never look at bridges the same way again.

Recommendation: This book is a gem! It is a great source for teaching some basic engineering principles. The simple, black and white illustrations complement the text nicely.  Although it is a picture book, I would recommend it for whole class instruction for 4th through 6th graders.

Topics: Science-engineering, bridges, gravity

Quantitative Reading Level: 

ATOS Level: 6.0; Grade Level Equivalent: 4-5; 80 page

Qualitative Reading Analysis:

Organization/Format: Don’t let the 80 pages of this book fool you! Although the concepts in this book are complicated, they are spread out in such a way as to not confuse the reader. The pages are heavily illustrated with black ink drawings.  With the exception of the introduction, the pages only have a partial or one sentence on them. Furthermore, many pages contain  illustrations alone.

Language Demands: There are quite a few engineering terms in this book such as gravity, cantilever, truss, suspension, mass, compression, tension, etc. Students should be introduced to these words before the book is read to them.

Knowledge Demands: A general overview of bridges would be helpful, but it is not necessary. The author does an excellent job of explaining why certain types of bridges are needed.

Meaning/Purpose: The purpose of this book is to teach readers about the different types of bridges. It also explains why various bridges are constructed.

Content/Subject Area & Standards:

Fifth Grade ELA (Missouri Learning Standards)

3. Develop and apply skills and strategies to comprehend, analyze and evaluate nonfiction (e.g., narrative, information/explanatory, opinion, persuasive, argumentative) from a variety of cultures and times. Read, infer and draw conclusions to: a. use multiple text features and graphics to locate information and gain an overview of the contents of text information b. interpret details from procedural text to complete a task, solve a problem, or perform an action c. interpret factual or quantitative information

Fifth Grade Science(Missouri Learning Standards)

PS2 – Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions-Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed toward the planet’s center. [Clarification Statement: “Down” is a local description of the direction that points toward the center of the spherical Earth.]

ETS1 – Engineering Design-Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students locate and review several resources about bridge building. Next, have a friendly class competition. Provide popsicle sticks, glue, tagboard and rubber bands. Have students create bridges from these materials. Add weight such as pennies to each of the bridges. See whose bridge holds the most weight! Another idea is to research historical bridges such as London Bridge. Have students build a model of the bridge and give a class presentation about its history.

Links to Supporting Content:

Bridge Building Lesson Plans

Bridge Building Video

Bridge Resources for Kids



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