Form and Function

Objective: Students will use their imaginations to create artistic and functional cantilever weights. 


  • 100-200 planks per student or small group 


  1. Review the principles of cantilevers in buildings and bridges (see bridge challenges). 
  2. If possible, show the class several bridges and buildings (The Guggenheim and other Frank Lloyd Wright structures are excellent examples of buildings with cantilevers). Discuss how architects use different designs to make their buildings and bridges unique and beautiful. Structures with similar functions can take many different and creative forms. 
  3. Have each student or group of students construct a structure with at least two cantilever elements. Students should first experiment with basic cantilevers: How far out can their overhang be? Will their cantilevers meet together and form a bridge? How much counter weight will be necessary to support the overhanging weight? 
  4. You may want to require that they make a rough sketch of their design. The sketches will help the students to make their structures beautiful as well as functional. Counter weight will be required to support the cantilevers. The students must be creative to build this weight in an artistic manner.

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