TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – For several months now, teams of students in 7th through 12th grade have been designing, building and crushing model bridges.
This is part of a long process leading up to a national competition. It is sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials , or AASHTO.
“We go over the groundwork and learn about building bridges and learn about programs such as Bentley Microstation Power Draft which is an engineering program the students will use to draw the bridges up,” said Julia Smith, Excel Technology Teacher.
Teams work with Julia and other sponsors throughout the process. They build bridges out of balsa wood, weigh each bridge, then place it on a tester that measures the strength to weight ratio.
In recent years, Tupelo teams have either won their divisions, or made strong showings at the National Bridge Building Championship.
Students say the competition is a lot of hard work, but it also teaches useful and practical information.
“It’s important to hold a lot, but you obviously want to use few materials, so that’s why you have a ratio, so less materials cost less money, so you want it to hold a lot and weigh a little,” said 10th grader Maddie Arancabia.
“I like trying to find different types of bridges, as in different combinations we can make and see how if we can try this , what impact it will make on the bridge,” said 10th grader Kimya Jamasbi.
Teams qualify for the national competition by submitting a detailed report about their bridge. Judges invite schools based on those reports. Tupelo’s teams are working hard on their bridge designs, in hopes of clinching another spot at nationals.
The national competition takes place in the spring in Rhode Island.