Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Building Bridges

My past weekends have been occupied by my grandson and his latest school project.

So… I have been busy building bridges! Two bridges - Pratt and Warren to be exact.

His hypothesis was to prove which bridge would withstand the most weight…..oh, so simple you say.

He is like me, his grandmother … a procrastinator and puts off projects until the dire last moment, shattering the harmony in his home as his parents struggle with his last moment endeavour … merely adding to the frenzy. I learned early in life to overcome my tendency to procrastination so have been trying the past few years to help him over this hurdle and assisting him with his school projects. Responsibility to ensure he has planned said projects with ample time for completion….trying hard to ‘bridge’ the gap between his natural inclination for procrastination and the importance of doing tasks in a timely fashion. It has been a ‘fun’ journey with many surprises along the way and well worth it as  this year he has called me and made proper arrangements to tackle this current project.

We shopped for materials before Christmas. He took one weekend to do research and develop his hypothesis. The following weekend he thought we would begin building, however I advised he would be required to draft scale drawings of his proposed bridges, compile materials lists, write up stages of construction …….etc. And he did all these things with enthusiasm and in a timely fashion.

So the last two weekends he has been busily building Pratt and Warren on a one inch equal one foot scale; using balsa wood.

I endeavour to stay in the background offering advice or suggestions on how best to utilize materials and supplying all necessary tools. When frustration sets in I am handy to encourage. I’d like to say, I do not do the work for him but check what he is doing and keep him concentrating on the chore at hand.

Anyway enough, these are his completed bridges. I understand that he will now add weights to the bridges and see which collapses first. I think he did a pretty good job for his first engineering project … draft drawings and all.

He called last evening …. His tests collapsed the bridge he expected to be strongest. He was quite discouraged; I suggested he record his findings and conclude that perhaps he would need to revisit the ‘engineering’ process. We had little time for discussion, I will have to wait a bit to see his entire presentation and his conclusions and discuss what he has learned from ‘building bridges’!

My sincerest hope is that the ‘bridge’ fused in sharing this time with him will assist him in the future when he must cross bigger bridges


  1. Great post Ruby, what a lucky grandchild, and lucky you too! It is a wonderful and necessary experience to work through a project until completion and there isn't much as satisfying as a job well done. He will remember these days!

  2. He will remember the bridge and he will remember who was there with him when he built it so the bridge has been a sucess even if it did collapse. It built an even more important bridge.