Chaparral Middle School GATE students raced to build toothpick bridges during a competition held on March 6. The group of gifted 6th, 7th and 8th graders is part of the after-school Bridge Design and Engineering class.
Chaparral 7th grade Language arts teacher Heather Finch serves as the GATE coordinator. “The class worked very hard in preparation for the challenge during the past 12 weeks,” Finch said.
The four-member teams managed their own budgets to buy supplies, including land (cardboard), lumber (toothpicks), welding equipment (glue), and paint.
It took 15-20 hours to complete the detailed structures. Students had to communicate as a team in order to overcome strict time constraints. Prizes were awarded for strongest truss bridge and for creative design.
“It was an overall fun and exciting experience building and breaking our bridges. I was surprised to see how much weight a toothpick bridge could hold,” said 7th grader Virginia Wang,
“Our goal was for the bridges to hold 150 lbs., and our winning bridge ended up holding over 250 lbs.,” Finch said.