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Secrets of Lost Empires

Bridge the Gap
(A version of this activity originally appeared on NOVA's Super Bridge Web site.)

How would you span a narrow waterway? A freeway? A wide river? An ocean bay? Learn about the four major types of bridges and then test your knowledge by matching the right bridge to the right location.

Step 1 - Survey the 4 sites
Photo of ocean bay A 5,000-foot span across an ocean bay where huge ships come and go.
A 120-foot span across a freeway. Photo of freeway
Photo of river A 1,000-foot span across a river busy with barge traffic.
A 50-foot span across a busy Chinese waterway. Photo of waterway

Step 2 - Do your homework.
Click on each bridge to discover its strengths—and weaknesses. (You'll need this information to play well.)

Diagram of an arch bridge
Arch bridge Diagram of a beam bridge
Diagram of a suspension bridge Beam bridge
Suspension bridge Diagram of a cable-stayed bridge

Cable-stayed bridge

Step 3 - Play the game.

Photos: (1) © Richard D. Strange; (2) Rita Serderian-Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute; (3) Portland Cement Association; (4) The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority.

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