Building Bridges for Education

Stephen Scaletty (11) and David Perryman (11) pose with their bridge.

Stephen Scaletty (11) and David Perryman (11) pose with their bridge.

Sydney Dame

Physics is a science class taught by Mr. Jon Foster at Fair Grove High School. This class is taught every other year to help accommodate for the larger groups of freshmen that Mr. Foster teaches in Biology. Even though this class is not taught every year, it is still tradition for the students to participate in the Model Bridge Contest sponsored by the Ozark Chapter of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers for Southwest Missouri at Hammons Student Center on the campus of Missouri State University (MSU). Fair Grove’s Physics class builds a bridge as part of their curriculum to get an understanding of weight distribution, bridge designs, and construction techniques used in working with wood. Bridge design is a good way to introduce the students into a category of physics that could be a potential career for them.

The rules for the competition are that the bridge must not exceed 20.0 grams and be made only from official basswood provided to the contestant and any commonly found adhesive. The bridge can be a maximum of 14.0 inches long, 3.0 inches wide, and 4.0 inches tall. To test a bridge an official will place a wooden block on said bridge then connect a bucket to it that will be filled with scoops of lead shot until the bridge breaks. First place for grades nine through 12 will receive a $125.00 cash prize, second place will receive a $100.00 cash prize, and third place will receive a $75.00 cash prize. Along with the prize money first and second place winners will are eligible for International Contest in Baltimore, Maryland on April 6th, 2019.

Fair Grove has done well in the competition for the past few years. “Based on our efficiency (weight that the bridge held divided by the weight of the bridge itself) Fair Grove has placed in the top five out of about 20 area schools. This includes all Springfield schools and the surrounding schools and private schools,” said Mr. Foster.

Although Fair Grove has placed in the top five out of 20 schools in the past few years they still have some big competition. “Ozark High School is usually the front runner for this competition. They do well because they don’t believe in gravity, thus their bridges hold a lot more,” said Mr. Jon Foster.

The overall scoring of the competition has not been posted yet but the top bridge from Fair Grove was built by Stephen Scaletty and David Perryman with a 75.0 pound mass held by a 19.8 gram bridge.