Terrace, BC – On Friday, May 13, the Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (Northern Branch) (EGBC) hosted their annual popsicle stick bridge breaking competition at Coast Mountain College’s (CMTN) Terrace campus.
The competition received around 126 bridge submissions from grade 3 to 11 classrooms in Smithers, Prince Rupert and Terrace.
CMTN instructors Stuart Toop and Regan Sibbald with their engineering students helped facilitate the competition, and each student had the opportunity to interview the engineers from EGBC in attendance about their careers.
Classrooms that participated in the competition tuned in virtually to see their bridges being destroyed.
Students asked questions to the hosting engineers about what they can work on for next year’s bridge, and what it’s like to be an engineer.
For EGBC board chair Jon Phelan, hosting competitions like this one are a great way to open kids’ eyes to how the world around them works.
“We want to help the interest start from an early age,” says Phelan, adding that if they enjoy the experience, they can choose to pursue engineering as a career option.
Another member of EGBC and fellow competition organizer Hasan Yahya says that popsicle stick bridge building challenges the students, regardless of age and ability.
“[The students] build something together from a creative idea, work collaboratively with their classmates, and come up with silly names,” says Yahya. “These are the things that we need to encourage people to do.”
“We put the art plus the science together to create something that is unique,” adds Yahya.
Phelan says that this competition is rewarding not only for the organizers, but for the students as well, who sometimes participate every year.
“Kids are amazing because when they fail, they’re not scared to try something new,” says Phelan. “We need to keep the encouragement going, keep the competition going.”
Bridges were judged on aesthetics as well as strength, with the strongest bridge of the day coming from a Grade 9 student team at Veritas Catholic School, withstanding 154lbs before collapsing.
To learn more about the engineering certificate program at CMTN, click here.