Students from 19 local high schools spent a sunny afternoon indoors building bridges, then breaking them.
Youngstown State University hosted the 10th annual Mahoning Valley Miniature Bridge Building Competition on Friday. Students constructed balsa-wood model bridges with the goal of creating the lightest bridges that would bear the heaviest loads.
Students in teams of three, two teams from each high school, were allotted three hours to build their bridges and an hour for drying time.
Lowellville senior Faith Borer said preparation of the bridges takes more than three hours.
“We’ve been working on this for weeks in class,” she said. “Even a few months, probably.”
Nathan Williams, Faith’s teammate, said it takes so long because it requires a lot of practice and patience.
“The best feeling is just when you happen to do something right,” he said.
A team from Springfield Local Schools attempted to speed up the drying process by using a heat lamp. Team member and senior student Lindsay Druschel brought the lamp from home – from her pet hedgehog.
“It gets the glue to dry faster so we can do more work,” she said.
Faith said she liked being able to compete with others and seeing what other ideas students came up with for their bridges.
“It’s a lot of fun looking at all the other bridges, and I get excited to see what will work and what won’t,” she said.
Jose Rayes, Choffin Career and Technical Center senior student, said overall, building the model bridges was just a cool experience.
“You can use your mind to build, which is really neat,” he said.
Myelle Mitchell, Youngs-town Early College sophomore, agreed.
“It definitely helps if you’re creative,” she said.
Anna Gasser, MS Consultants employee of administration and transportation services, said she most enjoys being able to put the bridges through a number of tests, ultimately breaking them before the eyes of their creators.
“It gives the students a great hands-on experience, and they are able to interact with consultants and contractors in the field,” she said.
Youngstown’s deputy director of public works, Charles Shasho, said it’s awesome that students are able to get professional exposure.
“They get to learn a little about designs and coordination,” he said. ‘Plus, they get to see theoretical physics be utilized in the real world.”