CEC students test bridge designs Saturday

Julie Rock for IVC District 321
Chillicothe Elementary Center students Seth Kirchner and Connor Bogner work
tediously to glue small pieces of balsa wood together to create a bridge for
the Bradley University Department of Civil Engineering and Construction
competition scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Northwoods.

After competing in the Bradley University Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Bridge-Pal Balsa Wood Bridge Building Competition last year, CEC students are putting what they learned into action to go back with better bridge designs for this year’s competition. 

Now in its 18th year, the purpose of the program is to foster an interest in engineering by asking students to design and build a bridge out of balsa wood and glue. 

The ultimate goal is to see how much weight the bridge they build can support.

Fifteen students in science teacher Elizabeth Sullivan’s class participated in the contest for the first time last year.  Students attended the weigh-in last February and observed the structure of the bridges, which held the most weight.  

Eighteen students joined in the competition this year and, since November, have been working in teams to design and build their bridges. 

Each team is assigned a Bradley University engineering student as a Bradley Pal to help the team organize, design, analyze and construct their bridge for the final competition. 

Designs will be put to the test from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the bridge-busting event at Northwoods Mall. The public is invited to observe.

Bridges are tested on a structure on which three rods are attached to the bridge and weighed down by a pulley system.

Lead shot is added to the attached bucket to see how much weight the bridge can support before collapse. In 2008, a bridge built by a team from Annawan High School won the competition, supporting nearly 254 pounds.   

Building bridges with longer, lower spans to spread the weight more evenly across the structure, CEC students are hopeful their designs will stand up to the other competitors.

Participating students include Bryce Fislar, Seth Kirchner, JR Rebholz, Connor Bogner, Brett Hoover, Jacob Dunbar, Nolan Wiedeman, Joey Gilliham, Joshua Lew, Jacob Murphy, Kaylee White, Paige Miller, Ben Ransom, Nicole Murray, Samantha Ford, Colton Colwell, Jacob Willford and AJ Endres.

— Submitted by Julie Rock for IVC District 321