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If you build it, will it hold?

How much load can a popsicle-stick bridge hold before the whole bridge’s load loses hold?

Last year, it was over half a ton. That’s right: a bridge constructed by Bill Frymire of Kamloops using the regulation 100 popsicle sticks held together with white glue and spanning a gap of 500 millimetres took 1,070 lbs of pressure before giving way. Organizers of this year’s 4th annual contest hope someone beats that record.

“This annual competition is held to have fun, celebrate engineering and geoscience week in Canada and to raise awareness of the engineering programs offered at TRU,” explained co-organizer Ben Giudici.

Presented jointly by the APEGBC South Central Branch and Thompson Rivers University, the Popsicle-Stick Bridge Contest gives contestants in four categories the chance to prove their engineering prowess and win a gift certificate, $100 prize or the coveted “Corporate Cup.”

Entry categories include Elementary (Grades 7 and Under), Secondary (Grades 8 to 12), Open (Public, mixed-category teams, university students, except PEngs) and Corporate (Open to professional engineers or engineering firms only).

“Anyone is welcome to participate, and contestants may enter bridges individually or as a team, but we encourage everyone to register early,” said Giudici.

The event will be held this year from 10 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday, March 10th in TRU’s Trades & Technology Center. Those who want to learn about the fundamentals of bridge design may download the free Westpoint Bridge Designer at http://bridgecontest.usma.edu/download.htm. The contest rules and entry form are posted at: http://www.tru.ca/advtech/electronics/index.html

The goal of the contest is to construct the strongest bridge possible with 100 Popsicle sticks and white glue. The bridge must span a 500 mm gap, the highest centre portion of the bridge must be designed to contact a 100mm wide loading plate through which the “Bridge Buster” will apply loading to the bridge, and a matchbox car must be able to traverse the bridge on a construction paper deck; otherwise, the design of the bridge is left up to the competitor.

Last year the contest saw a total of 72 entries in the four categories of competition.

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