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Modeling Mania

Cindy Jackson
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
Two to four 45-minute class periods


Whether the task is reinforcing a bridge or building a tower, the Cyberchase kids use mathematics and problem-solving strategies to solve the toughest problems. Cyberchase is a daily, animated adventure TV series on PBS Kids that engages 8 to 11-year-olds in the fun and challenge of mathematics. In this lesson, students will view clips from the Cyberchase episode "Modeling Behavior" to examine the usefulness and applications of creating models. They will then create their own models to solve a problem of a scientific nature: making a bridge that won't collapse.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Describe techniques helpful in solving spatial problems which utilize the notion that a model is a simplified version of something complicated;
  • Describe that models can be used to easily and safely understand how something works;
  • Utilize methods such as sketching or drawing possible solutions to a problem;
  • Create a model requiring specific dimensions and materials.


From the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards, available online at:
  • Representations: To use representations to model and interpret physical, social and mathematical phenomena.
  • Geometry: To use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems.
  • To analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three- dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships.

Media Components


Cyberchase #122: Modeling Behavior

Web sites:

Meet the Cyberchase Kids
Students have the opportunity to learn about the primary characters appearing in Cyberchase.

Super Bridge: Build a Bridge
Teachers may consult this site for additional information to enrich their basic understanding of bridge building.

Super Bridge: Beam Bridges
Teachers may also use this site as an additional source on building other types of bridges.


For the class:
  • Manila folders (See "Prep for Teachers" on next page for further information.)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Several boxes of paper fasteners (1/2-inch)
  • Several boxes of wooden stirrers (preferably the small type)
  • Several bottles of glue
  • Several rolls of pennies
  • Several centimeter rulers
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic Bags