Bridge building tradition continues


Mrs. Tatevosian

Mr. Gruss aligns the bridge with the table.

Stella Akopyan, Staff Writer

Clark Magnet’s long-standing bridge building competition continues for its 25th year on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Mr. Chuck Devore, a math and science teacher hired when Clark first opened in 1998, started this engineering competition as well as the robotics team here at Clark. For the past several years after Mr. Devore left Clark, physics teacher Mr. Gruss had taken over this tradition. 

The rules and requirements for what qualifies and is eligible for the competition changes each year. Projects made last year would not qualify for this year. Physics teacher Mr. Gruss shares his love for this tradition. “I love the creativity and ingenuity that is obvious in the varied designs the students build.  It is a great opportunity to apply the concepts we are learning in physics to a real-world-like engineering problem,” Mr. Gruss said. 

The items and regulations needed for this contest are wood, glue, and the 25 gram weight limit required for the bridge. Students had about three to four weeks to come up with a creative and effective idea. Because the assignment was extra credit, the students that participated were either motivated by that incentive or had personal buy-in to challenge themselves and compete with their peers. The amount of extra credit the students received depended on how well the student did.

Students filled Mr. Gruss’s classroom, impatiently waiting to test out their bridges. The bridges were tested by separating two tables to create a gap in between to place the bridge on. A bucket was then suspended from the middle of the bridge to test out how much weight the bridges can hold. Weights were then put into the bucket, which by themselves weighed 2 kilograms, and the student who created the bridge started to add one one-kilogram block at a time until the bridge breaks. Freshman Nane Mkhitaryan was one of the participants in the competition. “I was surprised at how well my bridge held up compared to others and I think that was from creating my bridge in forms of triangles,” Mkhitaryan said.

The students used what they learned in class to make sturdy and durable bridges. The winner for the 2023 Bridge Building Competition was senior Tracy Tranquena. Tracy’s bridge was able to hold 10 kilograms and weighed only 25.00 grams for an efficiency of 400, meaning the bridge held 400 times its own weight. The best design overall was freshman Hensa Ohanis. Her bridge was able to hold 6 kilograms and had an efficiency of 269. Even though it didn’t hold as much weight compared to others, it had a unique design.