Judges set to ‘bust’ bridges built by students during
Judges set to ‘bust’ bridges built by students duringNovember 12, 2002Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
More than 200 teams of elementary-, middle- and high-school students from around Central New York will converge on Syracuse University Nov. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to noon as the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) hosts “Build ‘Em and Bust ‘Em,” its second annual Bridge Building Contest.
The teams, comprising students from fourth to 12th grade, have until the contest day to construct balsa wood bridges from materials and specifications delivered to their schools, and to test those constructs for strength and durability. Bridges must be built no longer than 300 mm (11.8 inches), no wider than 75 mm (2.9 inches) and no taller than 100 mm (3.9 inches). Builders must also follow specifications for the roadbed, optional underhangs and the testing platform.
On the day of the contest, judges will test the bridges for efficiency by loading them until they break. Prizes for the strongest, most efficient bridges will be awarded in the following categories: fourth- through sixth-grade teams; seventh- and eighth-grade teams and high school teams.
“The students learn that a well-designed and built bridge is both strong and eye-catching; good design is dazzling,” says Peter Plumley, assistant dean for information systems and services and K-12 outreach in ECS and chief organizer of the event. “The range of submitted creations is always a treat to see.
“By providing a design project like this, we’re giving CNY secondary students an opportunity to participate, develop new skills and interests, and compete in a regional competition that they will never forget,” says Plumley.
Karen Crosby, a teacher at Tully Elementary School, is bringing six teams of fourth graders to this year’s competition.
“I am hoping for the students to have a positive experience with something exciting in science,” says Crosby. “Sometimes fostering a love of science is challenging, given the confines of ‘science kits.” This event should spark some natural curiosity and give me a change to spend time outside the regular school day with some ‘science loving’ students.”
The day, which is also expected to draw a large number of teachers and parents, will also include a “Write It-Do It” contest aimed at sharpening students’ skills in writing and following technical instructions. Two-person teams of middle school and elementary school students will be instructed to write a description of how to build a structure using colored toothpicks, styrofoam balls and gumdrops. Another team will build the structure based on the description.
Tours of ECS will be offered between 9:30-11:30 a.m., and a tour of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) facilities will be given from 1-2 p.m.
In addition to ECS, sponsoring organizations include ESF, the Central New York Technology Education Association (CNYTEA), Tech Alliance of CNY, the Syracuse City School District, WCNY and Building Big. For more information about the contest, visit the Web at www.ecs.syr.edu/community_events.html