Building Bridges

Elise Mariano, Staff Writer

Junior Biura Markarian built a bridge that won second place in her class for the March 26 and 27 bridge building contest run by physics teacher Gerald Gruss. She explained that she took special steps to make sure her bridge was sturdy. “It was a fun and sticky experience,” Markarian said. “I built the bridge in a way that ensured it would have support on both sides and I used triangles with the sticks throughout the rest of the building process.” Her bridge held eleven kilograms, making her bridge the second strongest in her class.

The competition is open to the whole school. Over 110 students participated and built structures this year — the most bridges built for the competition ever. A majority of Gruss’ Advanced Placement Physics class built bridges to put their extensive knowledge in physics to the test. Matthew Davidian won first place overall. His bridge held 41 kilograms.

Gruss prepared a list of requirements that students had to keep in mind while building their bridges. To make it easier for students to find materials, Gruss sold sets of 15 basswood sticks and hardwood glue for $5 each. Students still had the option to buy the sticks from any other store and use any commonly available adhesive to hold their structures together. Most participants chose to buy from Gruss because they felt assured that their structures would fit all the requirements.

To test the strength of the bridges, he put a block with a hook on the students’ bridges and hung a bucket on the hook. One kilogram weights were put in the bucket one at a time to see how much the bridge could hold.