Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spaghetti Bridges...what???

The science program at the Christian Academy in Japan has a three year rotation of special projects. Last year was "Science Fair" and next year is the "Egg-Drop" contest. This year its the "Spaghetti Bridge" project.

We were first introduced to this six years ago, when A was in sixth grade.

Students are given a 500 gram package of spaghetti, and a 50 gram bottle of white glue, and are supposed to fashion a bridge following certain basic dimensions. The bridges are judged on a variety of criteria--the one above won for the strongest bridge back in 2001. (I'm so glad for this photo in my files--because it provided some inspiration for our bridges this year.)

When we did this project with A (she says she doesn't remember building it...did we do that much work for her?) the structure we came up with was pretty thin, as you can see. It did hold several sets of weights before she was left with this much.

Our boys have trouble with focusing--and now, six years later, A has been dying to help build these bridges. Hers would be as good as the one in the first picture if she was given the chance. This is definitely wasted on middle school students... The websites we were given to consult on this project are almost all for college engineering students making suspension bridges. None of the descriptions we ran across were for this type of bridge--and almost always they were produced by teams...

Of course, everything we do now, we do twice. The boys could have opted to work together on this--many nights I've wished that's what they had done. One did a pretty faithful job beginning on pillars, the other from the beginning was diligent with his road bed. Together it would have been done easily, strongly, and DAYS AGO!!!! But instead, we've had two bridges going... And Stan has been in the States during this whole process.

While this won't win any awards for style, its a good, solid bridge. I expect it will hold a fair amount of weight. I've been proud of J-n for sticking with this.

J-ph's bridge is more of a "sampler" because he got bored with doing solid dense pillars, and decided to try different things. If it makes it to school tomorrow (the various styles don't very easily attach to each other), it also won't get a "style" award, and we expect the left side to collapse fairly on in the testing process because there are no center supports in that pillar.

Whats ahead? Tomorrow we have to get these to school. Our kids take a train--I rarely drive there. We have a couple of 28 packet microwave popcorn boxes that I hope they'll be willing to carry with their bridges padded inside.

The teachers will judge/grade the bridges based on a rubric the kids were given, and then on Friday morning the bridges will be "tested" We know that we'll end up with broken bridges--the question is how much weight will they hold before they collapse.

I leave with J-ph for a mission training seminar as soon as the bridge contest is over, so I won't be able to give you the photos of their bridges being tested until later next week.

Whats ahead for me? I can vacuum the bits and pieces of spaghetti off the floor and the carpet, and wipe the glue off the table cloth.

And be so grateful we don't have to do this EVER, EVER again!

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