How To Set up and Run Your Own School Bridge Competition
- Use the current year International Bridge Building Competition Criteria as the criteria for your student participants to use. This way the criteria for your winners will be identical to those utilized hopefully by your regional competition and also for the winners of the regional competition. The northeast Pennsylvania Regional Bridge Building Competition always uses the current year international criteria.
- Start out small. such as involving one grade level and possibly a limited number of students. The, as you gain experience, open your school competition to a larger number of students and competitors. And then, finally include all secondary students, grades 9 through 12. This will enable younger students gain more experience and increase their chances of future success in succeeding years.
- Solicit engineering firms /or local companies that utilize engineers to possibly help sponsor the competition by providing equipment used in the competition (e.g. computers, force sensors, criteria checking apparatus, bridge testing apparatus, trophies, etc.) to help defray the expenses incurred by the competition.
- Obtain a 4 cm x 4 cm 1/4 inch piece of steel plate (to use as the loading plate from your industrial arts or school maintenance staff. Also at your local hardware store pick up a 3/8-inch eye-bolt (and accompanying hex nut) from which to hang the load that will be used to test the carrying capacity of each bridge
- The testing apparatus does not need to be elaborate The supporting surfaces may be from flat table tops or desks that may be elevated and clamped at the requisite 30 cm distance apart to provide support along the long axis of the bridge. They should also be elevated so that there is sufficient clearance underneath to allow a relatively large quantity of weights and/or container for the load to be applied to the bridge. Slotted masses placed on weight pans with long support rods or sand may be poured into a bucket. Please remember to follow common sense safety procedures to ensure that avoidable and unavoidable in juries may be avoided.o ensure the safety of all participants, everyone should wear laboratory quality eye protection and the distance through which the applied load may drop should be limited. Padded carpet an/or several lyers of corrugated cardboard should also be used under the load's weight pan or bucket.
- Make sure that each bridge is thoroughly and impartially inspected for adherence to the specified criteria. Use a laboratory balance to determine the mass of each bridge.
- After all bridges are checked in, select the loading point to be used (if the criteria calls for more than one potential loading point) by drawing numbers out of a hat. All bridges will then be tested using that same loading point.
- Each student should place the load onto their bridge (unless they are unable to be in attendance the day of the competition) following the same procedure.
- Arrange if possible to conduct the competition in a large room (i.e. auditorium or cafeteria) so that all students can be present for the competition and also to allow interested spectators to observe the event. Some schools have their contest in conjunction with a scheduled event (i.e. open house, parents night, etc.)