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* News Release *
 
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
For Immediate Release

THIRTEEN BRIDGES COLLAPSE IN BUTLER COUNTY

Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens reports that thirteen bridges collapsed within an hour of each other last Friday. There were no injuries or fatalities because these were toothpick bridges built by some of the area's brightest students. The BCEO hosted sixth graders from the Hamilton City Schools Gifted Program for a bridge building contest during which Wilkens and staff subjected each student's bridge to a load stress test. Amazingly, two of the 15 bridges remained intact.

The contest resulted in a tie when two bridges withstood 100 pounds evenly distributed and then 120 pounds point loaded. Point loading refers to the spot that engineers deem the most critical or vulnerable on a bridge -- typically mid-span. "Any toothpick bridge that can withstand over 100 pounds is very impressive," said Wilkens. "We saw some extremely well designed and well built bridges from these students. Every single one of them should be very proud."

The Winners

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Co-winner Alaina Hicks from Pierce Elementary School
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Co-winner Jacob Dully from Lincoln Elementary School
The two winners were Alaina Hicks from Pierce Elementary School and Jacob Dully from Lincoln Elementary School. "Consider that a toothpick weighs less than one ounce and that the total weight of each bridge was less than a pound," said Engineering Manager Kar Singh. "Yet a few of these bridges were able to withstand over a hundred pounds. This provides a good lesson in how we incorporate basic laws of physics when designing real structures." BCEO engineers had spoken to the Gifted class about bridge engineering and roadway construction in April and coordinated with the teacher, Ms. Lindsay Boatright, to develop a bridge building competition.

"We wanted the students to get a true feel for what goes into the physics of designing and building a bridge," Singh noted. "They spent the past month working on their toothpick bridges and we invited them to our Office to determine which bridges were the strongest. It was a lot of fun and I think the kids learned a lot."

Before the contest, students received a tour of the Engineer's Office, experiencing real engineers performing real design, and they saw actual bridge beams that were built by BCEO crews. "There are many components of a bridge and this allowed the students to experience everything firsthand," Singh said.

Boatright added "What a fine example of a public agency partnering with the public schools for the sake of educating our children. I truly appreciate all the effort and time that the BCEO staff have put into this school project. The students were so excited to work with real bridge engineers and the chance to build and test their own bridges."

Click on images to enlarge.
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BCEO's Kar Singh places weight on bridge.
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So far so good. .. ..........................
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Should we put another on? . .........
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Toothpicks holding 100 pounds of weights...a study in physics and good ol' glue.
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BCEO engineers point load a span on this bridge.
..............................
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Co-winner Alaina Hicks watches carefully as engineers continue to point load her bridge.
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County Engineer Greg Wilkens talks to the students about their projects.
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Students await to have their bridges tested.
........
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One of 15 students and their bridges. ........................................
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Another bridge..
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And another.
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And another.
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And another. ...................................... .............. ...... ...............................
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And another. ...................................... .............. ...... ...............................
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Singh tours students around the BCEO grounds where they have the opportunity to view actual bridge beams.
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Students get a closeup view
of the BCEO's salt storage
dome. .........................................
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Students were able to check
out some of the BCEO's construction equipment. ................................
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Students, teachers, and BCEO personnel pose for a group shot in front of a snow plow. ..... ..........
# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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