Bridging AKTion

Is it possible to build a bridge without using anything sticky? No glue, no tape or no tacks?

We will be building a bridge with lollipop sticks that can support itself, with no glue, tape or anything of the sort – just like Leonardo DaVinci!

500 years ago, Leonardo Da Vinci achieved an amazing engineering feat when he designed a bridge that could support itself without any connections!

All these years later, Leonardo Da Vinci is still remembered for his many other amazing achievements and for having one of the most creative minds in history. He studied nature and used what he saw in the world around him to create masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa painting (whose eyes follow you around the room!) and to come up with designs for a bicycle, a ying machine and many weapons. He is remembered as an artist, an architect and a scientist – but at heart he was an engineer.

We can replicate one of his designs and build a self-supporting bridge with only lolly sticks by following the steps below.

How to make the bridge

Step 1

Put 2 lolly sticks on top of one lolly sideways lolly stick and put another on top of this one. (Red Sticks)

Step 2

Weave 2 sticks under the bottom horizontal stick, and over the top horizontal stick; slip a third stick underneath the 2 central sticks. (Orange Sticks)

Step 3

Weave 2 new sticks under the bottom stick and rest these 2 outside the first layer; press these together to lift the bridge up and then slip another stick underneath the newest layer. (Yellow Sticks)

Step 4

Weave one under the horizontal stick and align these with the first layer.

Well done, you have just made the basic bridge!


Challenge 1: Longest Bridge

How can we make this bridge longer? Think about the steps taken to get us this far and how we might be able to take it further and make the bridge longer

It will help to sketch/draw the steps you are thinking of taking – think about what is supported by what

Challenge 2: Mix and Match

Can we do the same but with other items from around the house? How about bendy straws or craft dowels & sticks?

What might make it harder to use these materials?

AKT II is a London-based structural, civil and façade engineering consultancy internationally recognised as being innovative and award-winning.

AKT II is a progressive, design-led structural and civil engineering firm. From our headquarters based in Central London along with regional offices in Manchester, Cambridge and Copenhagen, we have current and complete projects in over 40 countries worldwide. With over 350 awards, including three Stirling Prize-winning projects, we are constant achievers at the cutting edge of engineering.
Our experience is extensive, covering the commercial, residential, retail, leisure, educational, health and transportation sectors of the market. Projects range from large new-build developments to complicated refurbishments of listed buildings.
Fundamental to our company and team structures is the belief in a design-led approach; we believe that design is by its very nature curious, iterative and subject to refinement and improvement if it is to be successful. On each project, all members of the engineering team are encouraged to adopt a proactive attitude toward solving problems both within and outside our specific areas of responsibility.
AKT II is proud to support Open House Families for a 3rd year. This opportunity allows us to inspire curiosity and problem-solving in younger generations as they learn and participate in fun engineering based activities.

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