Experiment with these arch and beam bridge simulations.
How are the ways that arch and beam bridges support themselves different?
(look at the forces between the components of a bridge)
How does this affect the choice of material you could use to construct the different types of bridge?
How do the forces acting upon and within the bridge change when it is under load?
The fixed supports of the bridges are shown with cross-hatching.
What forces do the different bridge supports have to withstand?
If you were building a real bridge - how would you try to ensure that the supports could withstand these forces?
What difference does the length or curvature of the bridge make?
About the simulation:
The beam bridges are made up of balls joined by elastic links. As the links become compressed they are drawn in red - or yellow under greater compression. Under tension the supports are drawn in blue.
The arched bridges are made of composite interlocking bricks. They are somewhat more elastic than the materials traditionally used for building arches - and the bridge moves visible as a result of the forces on it.
Red arrows show forces on an object. Thin headed arrows show the individual forces that combine together to give the triangle headed resultant force.
Blue arrows show the direction and speed of an object's velocity.
The longer an arrow, the greater the force and velocity it represents.
Pressing the rewind button returns the simulation to its initial state.