Mystery Image Contest: January 5-19, 2015


The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County across the San Francisco Bay in California, USA. Before the bridge opened in 1937, the fastest way to get from San Francisco to Marin County was by boat. Now, over 110,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily. The Golden Gate was given its familiar towers and walkways by then-unknown architect Irving Morrow. Though the US Navy wanted the bridge painted in black and yellow stripes so it could be easily seen by passing ships, Morrow instead decided on the now-famous reddish-orange color. This shade is called International Orange, and is federally mandated in the aerospace and engineering industries to make objects stand out from their surroundings. The Golden Gate Bridge cost about $35 million then to build, and was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964. A suspension bridge is designed so as to hang the road (known as the "deck") on cables suspended from tall towers at either end of the bridge. The towers are anchored in the ground and therefore can bear the weight of the deck. Suspension bridge designs are stable even at the longest lengths, and require less material and are therefore cheaper to build than other designs. The Golden Gate is arguably one of the most famous bridges in the world, and is a superb example of engineering and physics in action.


This image is of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, USA.

Photo Credit

Bill Ebbesen via Wikimedia Commons

Winning Entry

David Lockett
Campus School
Murfreesboro, TN

For Educators

Teaching Support

Bridges are amazing works of design and engineering. The bridge pictured in this month's contest is an example of a suspension bridge, which is a type of bridge in which the deck (the load-bearing portion) is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. There are, of course, many other types of bridges, including: arch, cable, box girder, and cantilever.

Students should be encouraged to study and manipulate a variety of materials during their school years so that they can learn about their physical and chemical properties. In addition, students should engage in many different kinds of building activities. One way to encourage students in these activities is to expose them to the work of builders, architects, and manufacturers.

Many interesting activities can help your students understand how structures are designed and built. You can use this image to inspire students to think about what types of buildings or structures they would build if they could. What would they need to consider when they are designing the structure? What would be the costs and benefits of it? You could have your students design and build structures out of popsicle sticks, straws, blocks, food items, etc. It also would be great to take your students on a field trip to a bridge in your area, if possible.

The related resources listed here can help you lead your students through some activities in design and engineering.

Related Resources

Materials 1: Materials and Manufacturing
Materials 2: Recycled Materials
Putting It All Together
Shapes at Work
3-5 | LESSON
Ships 1: Give Me a Tall Ship
6-8 | LESSON
Ships 3: Grand Designs and Great Failures
6-8 | LESSON
Rocket Launch
9-12 | LESSON
Integrated Design Engineering Activity Series (IDEAS)
6-8 | TOOL

Science NetLinks Mystery Image Contest Rules and Regulations

What Is the

Mystery Image Contest?

The Mystery Image Contest offers the chance to identify a science-related object based on a close-up picture of it.