Students from across area will take part in ‘Bridge Construction Challenge’ on Saturday

Event is organized by Professional Engineers Ontario and the Science Education Partnership

Photo from last year's Bridge Construction Challenge courtesy of Wendy Hooghiem, science partnership technician with the Science Education Partnership.

Four months of “Engineer for a Day” bridge building activities will come to a finale this Saturday, March 24 as organizers from local school boards and members of the Lambton Chapter of Professional Engineers Ontario hold student competitions as part of National Engineering Month.

The event takes place at Lambton Mall, with testing of the entries beginning at 10 a.m.

National Engineering Month is a Canada-wide festival of volunteer-organized events, the purpose of which is to raise public awareness of the importance of engineering and technology in the lives of Canadians and to encourage young people to consider careers in these fields.

Over 800 elementary students in grades five to eight from Lambton County and Chatham-Kent took part in the Bridge Construction Challenge. Some 15 volunteers spent an estimated 400 hours with students, leading them through the hands-on activity.

Armed with hundreds of wooden craft sticks, hot glue guns, testing materials, and their expertise, teams of volunteers visited 29 classrooms across the district.  Students were asked to build the strongest bridge they could, using the least materials – a “real world” engineering challenge – when designing their bridges.  The strongest bridge from each class has been forwarded to this final competition.

Eight entries from local Scouts Canada troops will also compete in final testing as part of their emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math activities.  Approximately 28 Scouts and Venturer Scouts participated.

In this final competition, bridges will be loaded to the point of breaking.  Their mass will also be taken into account. The winner will be the lightest bridge that could handle the largest load, as measured at the point of failure.

“This is a fun, ‘hands-on’ activity that teaches students the basics of a strong structure,” said Volker Oettershagen of the Lambton PEO Chapter. “It also creates an initial awareness of the opportunities available in a technical education and career path.”

The project is organized around the Science Education Partnership, a cooperative project that provides science resources for educators within the Lambton Kent District School Board and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

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