Saturday, March 12, 2016

Building Bridges in STEAM

 Thanks to Mr. Dehetre for sharing this exciting update from STEAM:
Patrick Bergen

Students Study Structural Engineering in STEAM

7th grade STEAM students were given the challenge to build a light but strong bridge using only balsa wood and glue. Patrick Bergen stepped up to that challenge during the 2nd trimester by building a truss bridge that didn’t even weigh one ounce (.89 oz) but was able to hold 113.6 pounds. That’s a very remarkable feat considering the weight his light bridge was able to withstand. That’s more than Patrick’s own weight!

Patrick’s bridge is the 11th strongest bridge built in the STEAM class since I started keeping records back in 2009. The class record is 152.2 pounds held by David Gerkin in June of 2010. Congratulations to Patrick on building such a fine bridge! The thought and craftsmanship he put in to this project was outstanding. Maybe some day Patrick will need to add the initials P.E. (professional engineer) to his name. Patrick Bergen P.E. sounds pretty good!

Besides building and testing the strength of their bridges, the 7th grade STEAM students also learn about the different styles of bridges, and various community infrastructures. They also study the three major forces that affect bridges-strength of materials, design and use of drafting equipment, along with a look at the unintended consequences of eminent domain. Time was spent studying the construction of the Brooklyn and the Golden Gate Bridges. Students were fascinated by the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge back in 1940 and how structural engineers used data that they gathered from the disaster to make other suspension bridges safer and able to withstand extreme weather conditions.

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