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Building Bridges for Science

ESF 22nd annual Balsa Wood Bridge Competition

Dennis, Suzie, Big Bertha, The Baby Zebra, and Major Minor were some of the entries in the 22nd annual Balsa Wood Bridge Competition sponsored by the Green Construction Group at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry April 8, 2011.

Bridges were judged according to their weight and the load they hold. Students, working individually or in teams, were directed to find the strongest way to support a specified roadway across a 24-inch wide gorge using the least amount of balsa wood. The winner was the lightest bridge, when compared to the total amount of load carried by that bridge that achieves the greatest strength-to-weight ratio.

Bridges are at risk of destruction when placed in the hydraulic testing machine, used to determine the strength of each bridge. An electronic balance was used to determine the weight of each bridge.

The top three winners of the 22nd Annual Balsa Wood Bridge Competition were:

First place: Major Miner Bridge by Logan Miner, a home-schooled student

Second place: The Peryernator by Mark Peryer of Christian Brothers Academy

Third place: The Baby Zebra by Craig Weaver and Stephanie Hotaling of G. Ray Bodley High School.