We held our second team meeting on October 17th and its was again an ‘open-invitation’ event where any student could come and see what we are all about.
The students were excited to see what they would be working on that day, so we kicked off with an introduction into our challenge: Straw Bridges. Mentors talked briefly about basic bridge design and simple architectural concepts to get the students thinking of what approach they would take.
The goals of the challenge were to build a bridge to span a gap of 24″ that also supported as many drywall screws (our official unit of measurement) as possible. Students and mentors were broken out into four separate teams and given their materials: a box of drinking straws, a roll of Scotch tape and 15 minutes in which to complete a first iteration of their design that needed to be strong enough to hold our jack-o-lantern bucket (our official receptacle for drywall screws). If the bridge was strong enough to hold the bucket up then the team earned 12″ of gaffers tape to use as they continued to improve their designs.
After an additional 15 minutes to finalize their designs, the teams put their bridges to the test. A couple of teams had great, if perhaps a tad ambitious, designs and all of the teams were able to stand up to at least 35 grams-worth of drywall screws. Some teams encountered some setbacks and resorted to more direct, and surprisingly effective, designs:
When the dust had settled, however, engineering won out and with the winning team used the strength of triangles and sound engineering design to hold up more than 160 grams of drywall screws!! Thus, another successful engineering challenge was completed and everyone left excited and ready for next week’s meeting.