Fourth Grade STEAM: Building Bridges

In addition to time spent in The Factory, Mount Madonna School (MMS) makers’ space, elementary students at MMS also engage in wide variety of hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) projects in their own classrooms on a regular basis.

One such recent project, under the guidance of fourth grade teacher Nicholas Cabassa, students tackled a design and engineering challenge – bridge building!

“Testing our design was really important,” shared student Izaak Ocampo-Sobkoviak. “At first there wasn’t enough support in the center of our bridge and so we added more to make it stronger.”

Testing the design was an important part of the process agreed classmate Kadence Lewis.

“When we were testing, we found that if we put more reinforcement in the middle, rather than on the sides, our bridge was stronger,” said Lewis. “We also had to make sure that each end was anchored well with tape.”

Once completed, students tested the dead weight bearing capacity of each bridge using weights. The weights were metric, so as part of their lesson, students converted the metric weights into United States customary units. All of the bridge designs withstood five to seven pounds, and the strongest bridge seven and a half pounds!

“I choose this project as a team-building activity in which the students got to use their understanding of weight and structure to build a strong bridge out of the given materials,” explained Cabassa. “The activity links with what the students have been learning in both math and science.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Director of Marketing & Communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.



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