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Techbridge Girls Design Challenge: Super Cuffs and Strong Shapes

Lesson created by Alicia Lane using

Video from SciShow Kids YouTube Channel

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If you've reached this page, you have recently completed the Techbridge Girls activity: Super Cuffs. In this TED-Ed lesson, we will learn more about structural engineering and what shapes make structures (like bridges) strong. 

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Have you ever seen a superhero movie or read a superhero comic? Superheroes have extraordinary powers and dedicate their lives to protecting humankind. Yet, even with all their super powers, superheroes still need protection.

In this lesson and with our Super Cuffs activity, we took on the role of a real-life superhero: a structural engineer. Our mission with Super Cuffs was to practice our structural engineering skills to create powerful wrist cuffs by using a repeating pattern of shapes, and the cuffs had to be strong enough to support the weight of a stack of books.


More about the science of forces on shapes



More about structural engineering

Starting salary for structural engineers: $55,000

Structural engineers design load-bearing structures for buildings, bridges, roadways and much more. They are responsible for making sure that structures are strong and can withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters. Structural engineers use shapes to add strength and stability to buildings, roads, and a variety of products. 

Like superheroes, engineers rely on the strength of shapes to protect themselves and others from danger.
Want to learn more? Go on a shape scavenger hunt with your family!

When you’re out in your community with family or friends, see if you can find shapes in larger structures, such as houses, bridges, and playgrounds. Which shapes do you see? What roles do they play in structures?


Additional Resources

Check out PBS’s Building Big: Shapes lab to find out more abouthow shapes are used to strengthen structures

Want to try another activity to test the strength of different shapes?Head over to Zoom!

Put squares and triangles to the test in this Strong Shapes activity 
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02/25/2017 • 
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