Bridges built, destroyed for physics project
December 21, 2006
The bridges had the names Crab Crusader, Team Danger and Colossal Onslaught Indestructo Magmentum and some could hold more than 10 times their weight.
The students in three honors physics classes at Douglas High School were competing on Thursday to find which of their engineering wonders was the lightest, strongest, most efficient and most creative bridge. And besides a grade, the motivation?
“You all get cheesy first-grade motivational stickers that say ‘Wow,’ ‘Bingo,’ ‘Brilliant’ or one of these fantastic pencils,” said instructor Jay Frey.
The students constructed their bridges from three and a half manila file folders, weighing about a half pound, and glue. The minimum requirement was for the bridge to hold one 5-pound physics book. In the first class, the strongest bridge held six books.
“They’ve studied forces, compression and tension,” said Frey. “They’ve studied what types of beams are strongest. They’ve been working really hard, coming in after school. It’s fun to see the finished projects.”
Frey teaches the honors physics classes and this is his first year teaching at Douglas High School. He said he plans to do this lesson every year.
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“It was a real hands-on project,” he said. “There would be 35 kids in here at lunch – an encouraging turnout.”
Chelsie Haggard of the Beavers bridge team said what could make their bridge stronger was the way they made it.
“We used ‘A’ trusses,” said Chelsie, 16. “The project was fun but frustrating at times. We came in at lunches and after school all week. We hope ours does well because we worked hard on it.”
The Beavers bridge held three books and broke when the fourth was piled on. It ended up in the bridge graveyard in corner of room with the rest of the destroyed bridges.
The Shanker bridge held seven and broke at eight books. It was the most efficient by holding 1,117 percent of its weight.
The Colossal Onslaught Indestructo Magmentum bridge held eight books momentarily before it broke. The team was made of Forrest Scott, Brock Peterson, David Laird and Beau Slocum.
Their bridge was the strongest by holding 40 pounds, but based on bridge weight versus book weight, the Shanker bridge was more efficient.
The Colossal team’s secret?
“The guys stayed until 5:30 p.m. the last two nights,” said Forrest.
“It’s our passion,” said David.