Do you like to design and build new things? Have you ever wondered how bridges can carry people, cars, and trucks over long spans without failure for centuries? Come and explore the engineering process as you build a scale bridge out of wacky materials and compete to carry the most weight. This educational competition run by the Boston Society of Civil Engineers is in its 23rd year. Some of the competitions in the past involved building bridges out of pasta, chopsticks, and plasticware. This year's competition will feature bridges made out of popsicle sticks and hot glue! Follow the link below for registration and we will keep you updated on this year's competition. This competition is aimed at high school students, but upper elementary through middle school students have proved they can compete in the past, so we have opened up the competition to these students as well. Best of luck!
The BSCES Model Bridge Competition is hosted by the Boston Society of Civil Engineers (BSCES) Public Awareness & Outreach Committee. Each year a group of civil engineers come together to choose a material to be specified for bridge construction and write technical specifications for the bridge design. The goal of this competition is to design, construct and submit a structure with the specified materials and design for judging in the categories of most efficient and most aesthetic bridge design. We welcome all students in grades 12 and below to participate in the competition and practice their bridge building skills
Saturday, February 4, 2017; 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM - Competition Day
MassDOT Headquarters, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
Students will first register their bridges from 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM when judges will measure and weigh the bridges to make sure they meet specifications. Next, a panel of judges will judge the bridges for aesthetics. Then the bridges, one by one, will be tested to failure by applying more and more weight until the bridge fails. Finally, winners will be announced around 1:00 PM.
Is there a specific type of popsicle stick and glue that we are required to use?
YES, you must use the glue sticks and popsicle sticks provided by BSCES or you may purchase the same materials on your own. The designated hot glue is "Surebonder All-Purpose Stik Mini Glue Sticks: .27x4" and the designated popsicle sticks are "Loew-Cornell Craft Sticks."
Can my team of one person compete?
No, although we can still have single students test their bridges at the competition for fun. But to compete for the top three prizes in aesthetics or efficiency, we are enforcing the rule that teams of one person are NOT allowed.
The technical specifications say that the bridge must be 4.5" across if using a through bridge design. The sticks specified to be used are listed as 4.5" across on the box they arrive in; however, when you actually measure them, they are not quite 4.5". Is there a tolerance on the 4.5" specification? If it has to be at least 4.5", it creates a significant design challenge since none of the parts are that long. If the truck passes through the truss structure without hitting the side members, then will a through truss bridge slightly less than 4.5" (for instance, 4.4") pass muster when presented for testing?
The 4.5-inch width is actually determined without considering the length of the popsicles. The 4.5-inch width is used every year as the minimum width for the bridges and materials are connected as needed. That being said, the actual width of the truck is 4 inches, so if your bridge is a through-truss and the width of the opening is wide enough to fit a 4-inch wide block between the trusses, then you are OK. All we are looking for is getting the truck in the bridge to load it.
I have just been made aware of a problem with my student's model bridge design. They were using craft sticks that they purchased with the gift card from Joann's fabrics that were 1/4 x 3/32" x 5 2/4" in size. They ran out of material and purchased Loew-Cornell popsicle sticks that were a different size. Are we in violation of the rules?
The rules state that the bridge can only be built with the designated craft sticks. We handed these out or gave you the link to the materials in our email to you. The official craft sticks are available here. The official hot glue is available here. Unfortunately for your team, we have to uphold this rule. Teams can only use the designated craft sticks. If a team has used any other sticks or materials, they are in violation. And if a team were to show up with these sticks they could not win one of the prizes, but if there is time at the end, we would be happy to test "other bridges which used illegal materials" for fun.
I have a team that constructed 3 different bridges. They are going to bring all of them for testing. Is that okay?
The team will need to pick only one bridge as their "official entry." If we have time at the end of the competition, we would be happy to test the others for fun but these other bridges could not win prizes. This may have been different for previous years, but we have had a record number of teams register this year so we only have time for one test per team.