Build a bridge and get over it

February 14, 2019

Floyd County Schools’ elementary students compete in bridge building competition

With each weight added to the five gallon bucket suspended from a bridge made of 400 Popsicle sticks, students from Floyd County Schools held their breath, nervous that it may be one weight too many.

This process was repeated several times as students from some of the county elementary schools put their bridges to the test at the FCS Popsicle Bridge Challenge hosted by Model Elementary School Wednesday morning. The third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students worked in groups of two to four in the weeks prior to the competition, designing and developing a bridge design they thought would hold the most weight.

“I about had a heart attack,” Demari Owens, a Garden Lakes Elementary School fourth-grader said.

Owens and his teammates watched as their bridge took second place overall, holding 85 pounds before breaking off at one end. Their strategy, explained Tal Stone, team member and fourth-grader, was to make the middle as strong as possible which they learned from previous experience at the competition.

Armuchee Elementary School fifth-grade students Sydni Chapman, Erika Touchstone and Khloe Mabry said they worked on their bridge for four days together and did another one for class which took them two weeks to build and held 115 pounds. The bridge they built for the competition had an eight-layered lattice base with truss triangles along the side. The bridge withstood 137.5 pounds, which won the competition.

The all time record is 166 pounds, said Ryan White, instructional technology coordinator for the system. It was done by a Model Elementary School fifth-grader who won the competition and brought this year’s competition to MES. Whoever wins and holds the most weight has their school host it the next year.

The competition began as a science, technology, engineering and math activity, said Jaki Day, instructional technology specialist for FCS. Participation was completely voluntary she said, and the students created teams and worked on their bridges on their own time. The teachers did assist them after school she added.

“We are not pulling kids out of instructional time,” said Craig Ellison, executive director of technology and media services. “Now we are integrating instructional methods … with math, physics and engineering.”