Students Take On Engineering With Annual STEM Bridge Project


Eighth grader Lila Cooper sketches out her bridge in STEM class.

The annual STEM project bridge building is underway. Mr.Oster is helped this year by Mr.Hunt who was a mechanical engineer recently. The students are starting the project this week and will be using wooden sticks. Their bridges will undergo many tests to their bridges that include weights.

There are many different types of bridges that you can make. The bases are very important for the bridge as well as the way you want to make it.There are many different styles of bridges like Eighth Grader Landon Furguson’s bridge. He states,  “I chose a quadrangular truss for my bridge. It is more of a square type of bridge not really curved, it has a diamond pattern down the middle of it.”

Eighth grader Carter Burden shows off his bridge design to his STEM class.

The bridge can be a tall or a wide bridge, however, it has to be very specific. Eighth grader Owen Olbers says, “My bridge is roughly 19 inches long and 3 inches tall.” The way that you shape your sticks of wood can change the way you make it. Olbers said, “My x and diamond-shaped supports in the truss bridge will be used to support the applied weight and mainly try to displace weight to the sides of the bridge.” 

There are also many problems that can come up when building the bridge, including making the bridge light and sturdy. Olbers says, “Another thing we must worry about when building [the bridges] is to use as little glue as possible in order to make the bridge weigh as little as possible.” 

The students have many other challenges they need to overcome, but that is the learning curve of the project. Eighth grader Anabelle Persson states, “I have to make sure that my measurements and angles are correct so nothing will collapse during the tests of the bridge.”

After building the bridge, students will have theri bridge go through a series of weight tests. Owen Olbers talked about the weight of his bridge, “It (the bridge) will be made out of wood and will be expected to hold 40+ pounds.”

Building bridges is a part of engineering in the acronym STEM. There are many fields of engineering, but Mr.Oster states, “They are supposed to pick up some basic structural engineering skills.” Structural engineering is designing and analyzing buildings, bridges, power plants, electrical towers, and dams. 

There are some other factors to take into consideration while building bridges such as environmental factors. Mr. Hunt, a former mechanical engineer who is helping with the project, relayed  states, “I did a presentation with the STEM students on environmental factors when building a bridge based on different geography and which materials to use when building the bridge.” 

There will be some very interesting bridges this year and hopefully they can make it through the tests. Good luck to all of the contestants in Mr.Oster’s STEM class!