Published on March 10th, 2023 | by University Communications


Annual bridge-building, breaking contest showcases fun of science

Anticipation filled Selby Auditorium on March 9 as students competed in Saint Leo’s Ninth Annual Bridge-Building Competition, with students hoping their creation would not break as weights were added. Ten teams participated in the event, which was hosted by the Department of Natural Sciences and coordinated by Dr. Harsha Perera, assistant professor of physics and physical sciences in the College of Arts and Science.

The competitors in teams of one to three students had the goal of building the strongest possible bridge using only Elmer’s® glue and no more than 200 standard Popsicle® sticks. The entries had to bridge a 1.2-meter span.

“Last night’s bridge contest was a very successful, fun and engaging event,” Perera said. Despite the ‘No-Show’ bridges, we tested a total of 10 bridges. The winning bridge, ‘Bridgeit,’ designed by cybersecurity student William Bryan held 93-plus pounds. We even ran out of pre-prepared weights. If we could measure the exact total weight, I believe it could have been around 110 pounds which is a record in the history of our bridge contests.

“I believe this event sparked the enthusiasm for all the students regardless of their age or their major to learn engineering techniques on designing and building a bridge with given material, 200 Popsicle sticks and one Elmer’s glue to hold enormous weight compared to the mass of the bridge,” Perera continued. “It is also a good teamwork exercise and a great STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] activity for all ages. It would have been great if there were high school and or middle school participation. I hope to see more teams participating next year.”

While Bryan captured the top prize for bridge that held the most weight, the team of Hannah Evers, Alexa Keeler, and Juan Jimenez captured the votes of the audience and their bridge “Jahkeg” was named Most Aesthetically Pleasing.

Dr. Laura Altfeld, chair of the Department of Natural Sciences, said the competition brings out the fun of science. “And we never outgrow playing,” she said. “The is putting physics principals into action. The Popsicle sticks symbolize that you can never take yourself too seriously.”

Read more here.

View photos from the event below.

Photos by Hailey Latlief

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