Lincoln-Way North High School students tested their bridge building skills this week, seeing how many kilograms their basswood structures could hold before breaking.
“I wanted to make sure it didn’t break on the first few weights,” said Lincoln-Way North Steven Gibson, whose trestle-style bridge held 9 kilograms (about 19.8 pounds) but weighed only 22.77 grams.
“I wanted my bridge to be as small as I could get so it didn’t weigh much,” said junior Caitlin Broderick, whose basswood bridge weighed in at 18.62 grams but held 11 kilograms of weight.
Nearly 90 students and faculty members, including 70 physics students, 16 engineering students, one chemistry student and two teachers, participated in the competition after school on Dec. 13. Students were challenged to design and build a model bridge from basswood that would hold significant weight.
Efficiency was determined by weighing each bridge and then attaching weights – one at a time–until the bridge breaks. The equation for efficiency is the weight held divided by the weight of the bridge.
This year, first place went to Jillian Galich. Her bridge had a mass of 23.87 grams (about the mass of four nickels) and held 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds). Second place went to Claire Brezinski; third place went to Yannis Zigras; and third place went to Jeremy Roney.
All four students are entitled to represent Lincoln-Way North at the Regional Bridge Building Competition, which will be held Feb. 6 at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Lincoln-Way North teacher Michael Murphy, who organized this year’s local competition with teachers Wes Cooley, Peggy Piper and Matt Nemeth, said he was impressed with the quality of bridges built this year and the number of students who participated in the competition.
“This was the fourth year of the contest at Lincoln-Way North, and the students did a great job in participation and effort,” he said. “It is great to see the students work on projects outside of the classroom that relate to topics learned in the classroom.
“It was obvious from their designs and results that many students devoted a lot of hard work and time into this project,” he added. “I think the most rewarding part of this project is to hear the students talk the next day about what they could do differently next year to increase the efficiency of their bridges. It seems that this project sparks the creativity of a lot of students and fosters hard work and creativity.”