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Building bridges on a small scale

Bridges are made from toothpicks, string and glue. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

By Anna Erickson

Park Rapids seventh graders became builders over the last few weeks, learning all the tricks of the trade.

Terry Zoller’s industrial technology students constructed bridges out of toothpicks, cardboard, string and glue to learn the process, from planning to implementation.

Although the project was on a small scale, Zoller made it as real as possible for students by giving them a budget and checks. They worked on an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of their expenses.

Students picked their own groups and designed bridges on graph paper. They determined how much material they needed and could afford. They filled out an order form and purchased materials from “I Saw Lumber Company Warehouse.”

The warehouse even had fees for each question (audit service) and clean-up if there was an incident.Alexandra Kirlin, Abygail Smith, Morgan Anderson, Arianne Warmbold and Amanda Parker test their toothpick-bridge Friday.

Bridges also had to follow a certain “building code,” Zoller said. A boat and car had to fit under the bridge. Students designed the bridges to hold a large amount of weight.

Friday afternoon, students put their bridges to the test.

Bridges were held up and a bucket was attached to the middle. One by one, weights were added to the bucket and students waited 30 seconds to see if the bridge could hold up to the weight.

The bridges are stronger than they look. Zoller reported the most weight one bridge held was 37 pounds.

Students enjoy the project because it involves a lot of creativity, Zoller said. There are guidelines but there is a lot of room to make each bridge unique.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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