Breaking Bridges


BALDWIN PARK, CA —- On Wednesday April 6, Mr. Eastvedt’s 5th and 6th period physics classes participated in the infamous bridge test. Students were challenged to design and build bridges out of Popsicle sticks and school glue.

The rules were fairly simple: no more than 200 regular popsicle sticks, school glue only, and long enough to be put between two desks.

The bridge project is a hallmark of Mr. Eastvedt’s physics course. With no limit on the number of sticks that can be used Other projects include an egg-drop test, a mousetrap car, and a catapult.

The projects were placed between two desks and put to the test. Students were graded on a curve depending on the mass of the bridge and the weight it could support. Lighter bridges had lower standards to reach than heavier bridges did.

Because there was no specific design required, students turned in a variety of designs, the most common of which was the truss bridge like the one Jorge Aparicio, pictured below, built.

Others, however, took a simpler approach. Christopher Huynh layered a bunch of sticks together and hoped for the best.

Christopher Huynh after his bridge survived the test
Christopher Huynh after his bridge survived the test

“Simply this is the simplest design possibly. its just layered sticks. literally, like, if you went to the 99cent store and stacked all of these together, this is what you would get,” remarked Huynh after his bridge survived the full 158 pounds, the sum of all the weights Mr. Eastvedt has available. “Probably frame it. I’ll probably nail it to my drywall or something.”

Although everyone was given a month to finish the project, Jorge Aparicio claims to have stayed up until 3 AM for two nights in order to finish his project. His hard work paid off – his bridge was able to support all the weights available.

Jorge Aparicio holding his bridge.
Jorge Aparicio holding his bridge.

The projects are a stepping stone for the ones encountered in the AP Physics course which include: a water balloon launcher, a boat, and a musical instrument. These projects are designed to test students’ creativity and craftsmanship while teaching them to apply their physics knowledge.

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