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Building bridges

Posted: June 15, 2009 10:14 p.m.
Updated: June 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Winning bridge-builders Claire Williams and Margaux Chotel hold the winning bridge, "The Leaning Bridge of Popsicle Sticks."

 
During the past few weeks, the fourth graders of North Park Elementary built Popsicle-stick bridges and then tested how much weight they could hold.

Every day, the fourth graders of Mrs. Mann's class, Mrs. Buehler's class and Mr. Devore's class worked on their Popsicle-stick bridges.

The bridges had a size limit of nine to 10 inches and were to be built with 100 Popsicle sticks.

After a few weeks, the fourth-graders had a contest to see which bridge could hold the most weight. Many fourth graders were anxious to see their bridge hold the most weight.

"If you are positive, your bridge will not fall," said a member of one of the bridge groups.

Two engineers named Mr. Letz and Mr. Landrey from the City of Santa Clarita came to observe the competition. Mr. Letz and Mr. Landrey also taught the fourth-graders about different bridges.

Mr. Brice, another engineer with the city and father to Nick Brice, a fellow fourth-grade student and bridge-builder, showed us pictures of the old Soledad Canyon Bridge being demolished and then rebuilt.

Two of the bridges built by the students held 195 pounds. At first, the students thought there would be a tie, but the winning bridge, made by Claire Williams and Margaux Chotel, held more than 200 pounds and did not break.

Along with the Popsicle-stick bridges, the fourth-graders had to research a real-world bridge and create a PowerPoint presentation about it.

Bridging to the future, fourth-grade students also researched potential careers and colleges they wished to attend. Many wrote letters of introduction to potential employers and admissions officers.

Thanks to a Saugus District Grant called SWATTEC, all fourth-graders have laptop computers on which to do research and create presentations.

After the contest, the fourth graders presented their PowerPoint presentations to their class and shared their letters.

The fourth-graders enjoyed making their bridges, and it helped them learn that teamwork is important.

Annabelle Kline-Zilles is a fourth-grade student at North Park Elementary School.

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