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* News Release *
Friday, November 21, 2008
For Immediate Release

BCEO and Hamilton City Schools

The Butler County Engineer's Office held its fifth annual bridge competition this morning in conjunction with the Hamilton City Schools Gifted Program. About 75 students participated in the event which is aimed at teaching the principles and physics of bridge design and engineering.

Students arrive at the Engineer's Office with toothpick bridges on which they have worked for ten weeks. During the bridge building process they are encouraged to research and study various types of bridge structures and come up with their own designs. The students then build their bridges within a required set of parameters using toothpicks and glue, applying the physics and engineering principles they've learned.

When competition day arrives, BCEO engineers subject each bridge to a load stress test to determine its strength. This is done through point-loading, a process by which the engineers apply increasing amounts of weight to a single spot on the bridge until it breaks.

"The strongest bridge wins," said Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens. "But this year we also added a category for best appearance and craftsmanship. We see a lot of creativity that goes into making these toothpick bridges both strong and aesthetically pleasing."

The winners in the best design and appearance category were Mark Boyle of Lincoln Elementary, Zachary Simpson of Pierce Elementary, and Tori Hopkins from Van Buren Elementary.

Taking first place in the strength category was Karre Landers of Grant Elementary whose bridge withstood 64 pounds point-loaded before breaking. The second sturdiest bridge broke at 58.5 pounds and was built by Claire Barrington from Monroe Elementary. Third place went to Brianna Bush of Harrison Elementary at 45 pounds.

"The bridge competition is a fun way for the students to experience a taste of civil engineering," said Wilkens. "Perhaps a few of them may even choose this field as a career path. Either way, we hope it's been a positive learning experience for these very gifted and talented young individuals. Our thanks to the Hamilton City Schools for partnering with us on this event."

Click on images to enlarge.
Strength Test winners: Claire Barrington, Karre Landers, Brianna Bush.
Best Design winners: Mark Boyle, Zachary Simpson,
Tori Hopkins...
BCEO engineers and the Strength Test winners. .....................................
Students get a lesson in sign-making.
Students get ready to have their bridges tested...
BCEO engineers strength test a bridge as students look on.
BCEO engineers Mark Goodman and Dave Quimby get ready to stength test a bridge.
Best Design winner Mark Boyle with his bridge. ......................................
A sampling of the 75 toothpick bridges. ...................................................
# # #

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

Questions or comments about this web site? Email to BCEO Webmaster.

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