Building bridges to success

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Bridge Day tests students’ skills to build model structures

Teniqua Hayter built her popsicle sticks-and-glue bridge hoping it would withstand plenty of weight.
The Leary’s Brook Junior High Grade 8 student did manage to do that, but her bridge will need to be sent to Memorial University in order to find out exactly how much weight it can take.

Saturday’s Bridge Day event at the Johnson Geo Centre in St. John’s attracted hundreds of Newfoundland and Labrador students from grades 7-12, each of them bringing along a bridge they built to get tested Teniqua’s 1,499-gram bridge frustrated the capabilities of equipment being used to record the weight as it passed the 800-kilogram mark.

It will now be sent to MUN for further testing.

“I’m trembling here now,” she said.

“I’m actually so excited because I didn’t think I’d do that well, first time in the competition.”

Saturday’s 23rd annual event was organized by Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL) to recognize National Engineering and Geoscience Month. According to Geoff Emberley, PEGNL’s CEO and registrar, Bridge Day is all about getting youth excited about engineering and geoscience.

“For us, this is about attracting students to engineering and science,” he said. “Creating a sense that it’s fun to do and there’s interesting things here, and ultimately trying to attract them to these occupations.”

Mount Pearl Intermediate Grade 7 student Jesse Butt, who one day hopes to become an electrical engineer, built a base structure underneath the bridge to provide support.

“Underneath, I didn’t have the complete popsicles, so it could have more flex and put less pressure on my structure,” he said.

A first-time participant in the event, Jesse said he may look to incorporate subtle design features next year to hopefully help his bridge handle more weight.

Teniqua built her bridge with an eye towards ensuring the pressure applied to it during testing would be felt equally throughout the popsicle-stick structure.

“It was pretty easy,” she said of building the bridge, “because once you got into the flow of it, you could just keep going in laying down the popsicle sticks.”

While she already has a strong interest in science, Teniqua is hoping to one day become a veterinarian.

Saturday’s event was not all about building the bridge that could hold the most weight. A group of engineers serving as judges looked at each bridge and graded it based on design. The bridges were then weighed before being tested to determine what they could hold. Those numbers would then go into a formula to help rank the bridges.

“Winning is not what it’s all about,” noted Emberley. “Sure there’s a winner, but the whole thing is about kids putting bridges together, enjoying what they’re doing, becoming interested in what they’re doing, and seeing this as a possible career for the future.”

A Bridge Day event also took place Saturday in Corner Brook. Further competitions are scheduled to happen later this month in Clarenville, Grand Falls-Windsor, Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Johnson Geo Centre, National Engineering

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, MUN, Corner Brook Clarenville Happy Valley

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