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2019 Spaghetti Bridge Competition

2019 Spaghetti Bridge Competition

Author: Gay Ellyett
Author Role: Coordinator Exceptional Scientists' Program

In Term 4 2019, twenty-two students from Years 8 to 12 entered the Spaghetti Bridge Competition. This annual competition is organised by The Engineering Link Group and generously sponsored by the Department of Transport and Main Roads. It is open to all students from Years 7 to 12. Their task is to build a bridge entirely from spaghetti and glue.

The competition requires students to apply both engineering and problem-solving skills as their bridge must be as close as possible to 300g, but must not exceed it, and it must span a gap of 35cm. This requires careful planning, designing, testing and skilful joining of spaghetti with glue to produce a symmetrical, strong bridge capable of taking a load. Students can enter as individuals, or in teams of up to four. CHAC entered fourteen teams.

We estimated that it takes approximately 24 man-hours to build a spaghetti bridge and by the day of testing, nine teams had completed a bridge. We took these into the TAFE at South Bank where they were tested on a specially designed rig. One person from the group loaded the bridge until it eventually cracked and failed. The winning bridge supported the greatest load.

Four prizes are awarded: first ($1000), second ($500), third ($250) and best new school ($250). CHAC students collected $1750 of the total prize pool of $2000.

More than one hundred teams from schools across Queensland tested their bridges. First place was awarded to a CHAC Team comprising Year 9 students, Ben Hamilton and Kara Pizzica, who called their team Chactastic. Their bridge withstood a load of 59.8 kg. This is a 35cm spaghetti structure that could support more than the weight of an average student – remarkable! CHAC also took out second place with Bridge Bois comprising four Year 10 students, Matthew Sloman, James Gardiner, Ryan Warwick and Lachlan Fagg, taking a load of 40.7 kg. A Year 8 team, Spathetic, comprising Tom Wood, Danielle Weizman, Daniel Greenaway and Sam Paech came third with a load of 37.8 kg.

Last week on Assembly, Ben and Kara accepted a prize of $1000 presented by Mr Greg Millikan, the organiser of the event; second prize was $500 and third was $250. It is a remarkable achievement by CHAC students to take out three of the four prizes awarded in the competition. The fourth is for the best new school, and we did not qualify.

I look forward to next year when most of these students will return to improve their bridges and possibly others will take up the challenge. It is a great learning experience and lots of fun.