Bridges Have Fallen at the 49th Annual Colorado High School Bridge Building Competition

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More than 70 high school students from throughout Colorado had their bridges tested at the Bureau of Reclamation Laboratory

Dylan Moorman of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs watches his bridge being tested. Dylan won the Region 2 contest with an efficiency of 3,772.

Dylan Moorman of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs watches his bridge being tested. Dylan won the Region 2 contest with an efficiency of 3,772.

Winners of the competition took home scholarships and will now have the ability to compete at the International Bridge Building Competition in Chicago this spring.

Many wooden bridges were destroyed today at the Denver Federal Center, but it was for a good cause. High school students from throughout Colorado descended on the Bureau of Reclamation's lab to test the strength of their bridges at the 49th Annual Colorado High School Bridge Building Competition.

The winners of the competition took home scholarships and the ability to compete at the International Bridge Building Competition in Chicago, Illinois.

In Region 1, Michael Schindewolf of Front Range Christian High School took first place with a bridge that weighed 10.59 grams and supported a max load of 42.02 kilograms (92.6 pounds), giving it an efficiency value of 3,968. Dade Lindley of Lindley Home School took second with an efficiency of 3,571. In third was Gabe Fik of Front Range Christian with an efficiency of 2,825.

In the team competition in Region 1, Front Range Christian won with a team efficiency of 9,102. Second place went Englewood High School and third place went Denver School of Science and Technology.

In Region 2, Dylan Moorman of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs took first place with a bridge that weighed 25.64 grams and supported a max load of 96.71 kilograms (213.2 pounds), giving it an efficiency of 3,772. Nikolas Provost of Rampart High School took second with an efficiency of 3,720. In third was Christian Dalland of Rampart High School took third with an efficiency of 3,185.

In the team competition in Region 2, Cheyenne Mountain High School won with a team efficiency of 9,058. Second place went to Rampart High School and third place went to Manzanola High School.

Schools participating in the contest include: Buena Vista High School, Cherry Creek High School, Cheyenne Mountain High School, Denver School of Science and Technology, Englewood High School, Front Range Christian, Lindley Home School, Manzanola High School, Mills Home School, Rampart High School and Salida High School.

Every year, students from across the state gather at the Bureau of Reclamation's Concrete, Geotechnical, and Structural Laboratory to test out their homemade, small-scale bridges. These bridges, made of only a few basic materials, are then tested to determine how much weight they can support. The winning models are determined by the structural efficiency ratio, or the amount of weight the bridge can hold divided by the weight of the bridge. The winning bridges have the highest structural efficiency ratios.

The state is split into two regions: northern (Region One) and southern (Region Two). The first and second place winners from each region are invited to compete at the International Bridge Building Contest, where prizes have included college scholarships. Winners from this year's competition were awarded college scholarships to go toward science and engineering education.

The High School Bridge Building Competition aims to encourage participation in the fields of science, math, engineering and technology. In addition to the competition, attendees and their families will explore Reclamation's laboratories and facilities with professional engineers, getting a chance to see research and science in action. Students can visit the humidity room, where working models of structures and dam construction materials are cured for optimum strength and will witness a 2,000-pound concrete cylinder crushed by a machine capable of 5-million pounds of compression.

Reclamation, the National Society of Professional Engineers of Colorado and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado sponsor the competition.

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Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation
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