Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spaghetti Bridge Competition

I learned about the spaghetti bridge competitions, held at various engineering schools, in my Spanish conversation class.

"Each group is to build a bridge made from spaghetti and glue/epoxy. The object is to construct a bridge that will carry the heaviest load while still meeting specifications. Bridges will be loaded until they fail."

The teams attach a metal chain to the underside of the bridge and add weights until the bridge breaks. At one contest, according to my fellow Spanish student, the weights fell to the floor when the HOOK broke, not the bridge!

From the John Hopkins spaghetti bridge web page, here are some of the rules:
  • The bridge is to be built from spaghetti (cylindrical forms of pasta) and glue, epoxy or resin.

  • The bridge shall be free-standing and must span two level surfaces which are one meter apart.

  • The bridge must include a decking of spaghetti to provide a suitable road surface at least 5cm wide across the full span of the bridge... A block of wood (5 cm x 5cm x 10 cm) representing a car must be able to move along the length of the decking unobstructed from end to end...

  • You must incorporate a "loading platform" consisting of a U-bolt secured to a piece of plywood... All loads will be suspended from this U-bolt ... using an S-hook...

  • The maximum weight of the bridge including the loading platform must not exceed 0.75 kilograms.

Note: These rules are essentially the same as those developed for contests at Okanagan University College. For a bridge meeting these restrictions, Okanagan claims a world record of 176 kilograms (388 pounds). [Pictures from the Okanagan event, which has a lot of international competitors, here.]

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At 10:58 AM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

This idea is popular as an icebreaker at meetings. Every semester, we are required to attend some stupid minimeetings before the stupid convocation meeting [where they tell you how high to jump and when to come down that particular semester...did that sound bitter?] Anyway, I sat at a table with 3 other women whom I did not know as 4 marshmallows and a handful od spaghetti was passed out to each group. I guess it's supposed to promote interaction, conversation, cooperation, and creativity. In my group, I sat quietly and watched thinking about this particular 15 minutes of my life that I would never get back and listened to the other 3 women bicker what to do with the marshmallows and spaghetti. I toyed with the idea of eating one of the marshmallows to see what kind of reactions that might cause, but I decided that too many unknown hands had touched these tasty treats.~~~Susanlynn

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous sylvia said...

Ha ha! Susanlynn you crack me up. I also loathe those forced interaction thingies and usually get surly and/or disruptive. That bridge competition is cool though, since the students are voluntarily doing it they let their creative juices flow. I love the tidbit about the hook breaking instead of the bridge. I enjoy hearing about people who use their brains, especially young'uns.

At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If spaghetti and epoxy sounds too easy, spaghetti and marshmallows is a real challenge.


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