The FWSU Story: Fletcher Students Reflect on Bridge Building Experience and Competition

Students in grades 4, 5, and 6 at Fletcher Elementary recently showcased their self-designed bridges at the annual bridge building competition at Vermont Technical College. The project supports students’ design process skills and teamwork. Below are reflections by four students on their experiences.

Bridge Building Competition: Crushing the Competition!

By Camrynn Slingerland, Grade 6

Have you ever been to a bridge building competition? My school has. It was at VTC in Randolph, Vermont.

In a group at school we made a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue and we had an option of using dental floss. When we got to the competition, a gentleman there used a machine to apply pressure to everyone’s bridge to see whose bridge held the most weight out of them all.

My group’s bridge held the highest amount of pressure out of the three sixth grade teams! I felt very happy because my group estimated that it would hold only 10 pounds! Our bridge held a total of 92.5 pounds. Someone in my group almost looked like she was going cry she was so happy! After that I felt very relieved because it was just all over. No more being nervous and no more stressing on how we can make our bridge stronger.

Here is just a little bit about the winning team. Usually people that get into the competition get a little intimidated by that school because they’ve won for the past 3 to 4 years. Their bridge is very strong. They work on Saturdays and also stay after school to work on their bridge. The one thing I noticed is that not a lot of people used dental floss. Well, not their team at least. My group did because we find it a lot easier to hold the bridge because the dental floss can be stretchy. The winning team usually gets a gold medal for the strongest bridge.

Through this experience I’ve learned what I would do better next time. Something I want to do next time is maybe not to make the truss or the top so thin and maybe add more popsicle sticks. Something I learned is that the stronger the bridge is the less likely it is to not break or snap in half. It’s probably going to fall forward or backward. Because it’s so strong it will be hard to break in half, like People’s Academy (the winning school). Their bridge fell backwards.

I really encourage people to go to the bridge building competition because it’s a great experience there. You get to hang out with your friends and watch people crushing bridges.

VTC Bridge Building

By Bryant Matton, Grade 6

What is bridge building? Bridge building is a competition about building a bridge out of popsicle sticks, glue, and dental floss. The team’s bridge that holds the most amount of weight wins.

We had three weeks to build our bridge. My group had different assignments like, building the abutments, truss, and deck. Our group built several abutments until we made square abutments with a crosshair type design. At VTC, there were about sixty seven teams competing and four of the teams were from Fletcher. My team thought our bridge would hold 15 pounds but it held 70.2 pounds. The winning team, Peoples Academy’s bridge, held about 2081 pounds.

Bridge building is really fun and it’s a good team building activity.

Spilling the Tea about VTCBBC

By Ava Ardovino, Grade 6

Did you know that one team’s bridge held over 2,000 pounds? Well it did! Every year VTC (Vermont Technical College) hosts a bridge building competition for grades 5-12 to build a bridge and then watch it get crushed! If you have an interest in Civil Engineering I strongly encourage you to to enter this competition!

First, you have to build the bridge! In my opinion, this was the most fun! We had 3 weeks to build a bridge made out of popsicle sticks, floss, toothpicks, and Elmers glue. Each team also had to make sure that a 1000 mm by 150 mm box could fit under it and it couldn’t weigh over 13.32 lbs. Second, was the judging and bridge crushing process! When the judges were judging our bridge they asked us questions like what truss design we chose, how we designed our abutments, and how we chose to build our bridge. After that we got in line to measure and weigh our bridge. Our bridge weighed 4.5 lbs. Finally, it was time to crush our bridge, using a hydraulic machine that measured pounds of pressure (or weight)! Our bridge ended up holding 55.6 lbs. We grabbed our bridge and took a picture with it, then it was time for lunch!

Lastly, was the award ceremony! Some of the awards that you could win were best presentation, lightest bridge, best looking bridge, aesthetics, and most weight it could hold.

The event’s main idea was for kids who are interested in Civil Engineering! VTCBBC is a great way for kids to use their knowledge about Civil Engineering and make a popsicle stick bridge with it!

Do You Have What It Takes?

By Reagan Baumeister, Grade 6

Have you ever wanted to test out your bridge building skills in a real competition? Well, if you do, you can go to the VTC bridge building competition and and test out your skills in a real competition against real teams and a real college! There also provide a really good lunch.

You get about two or three weeks to build your bridge back at school. When you get to VTC, you walk straight to the bridge crushing room. That’s where the “gordinator” sits. The gordonator is the machine that crushes your bridge and measures how much weight it can hold. Your team will get a number and then you wait for your bridge to get crushed!

After your bridge gets crushed you go up to the lunch room and eat lunch. They have pizza, mac and cheese, cookies and ice cream. They also provide drinks and much more.

After lunch, you will go back and have an award ceremony, which is probably the most exciting part of the trip. You get to see all of your data from your bridge. The ceremony is the best part because you get to see if your bridge was good enough for any of the awards. After that you go back to the school.

The competition is really fun over all. Do you think you have what it takes to win well you can find out at the VTC bridge building competition?

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon

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