Norwich University reaches out to high school students every year with the annual Popsicle stick bridge-building contest. Each winter, the Norwich University student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers organizes and hosts a bridge-building competition for all Vermont high school juniors and seniors. The purpose is to give high school math and science teachers the opportunity to educate students on the basic principles of load and force transfer through truss design.Students design, build and test their own bridges in teams of two to four members. Teachers are encouraged to help students understand the science behind load transfer, but bridges are completely student-built.
Building materials include wooden Popsicle sticks, dental floss, small nuts and bolts and metal L-brackets. No adhesives are permitted.
This challenging competition is a fun excuse to visit a college campus and an opportunity to get young people interested in engineering as a career. The Norwich ASCE gives awards for the best engineered bridge, the most weight held, workmanship, originality, most spectacular failure and best overall bridge.
The competition took place Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, and 17 teams participated. The winning team was “The Rolling Stones” from South Burlington High School with a bridge that held 44 pounds while weighing less than 0.90 pounds.