Dr. Skip's Corner: K-12 Teaching Adventures @ OSU Engineering
February 2004

Civil Engineering - Building Structures

This month we have chosen to focus on the discipline of Civil Engineering because on February 21, the 35th annual PEO Holly Cornell Model Bridge Contest will take place from 8AM to 3PM at 102 Owen Hall on the OSU campus. Over 200 student constructed balsa bridges will be tested for maximum load carried. It is an exciting event, and the public is invited! See the following link for more information about the contest: http://www.iit.edu/~hsbridge/

You can take part in the excitement of engineering by building a bridge with your students! The following activities were performed with a group of middle school girls in the Advocates for Women in Science, Engineering, and Math (AWSEM) program by OSU engineering student mentors Joani Kroon (ChE Dept.), Heidi Schmidt (BioE), and Emily Egging (ChE/BioE).

Students were divided into three groups of four. The groups remained the same for all of the activities.

Activity One: 30 Minutes

Each group was given one bag our marshmallows and 50 skewer sticks and asked to build the tallest tower possible. They were allowed to break the sticks to whatever size they wanted and tear the marshmallows into smaller pieces.

Activity Two: 45 Minutes

Each group was given 50 index cards and a stapler. They were to design and build a tower to hold a specific book that was as tall as possible. When they were done, we tested the towers by adding heavier books to see how many books they could hold. We also counted the "cost" of each tower by saying each staple cost $2 and each fold cost $1 to see which tower was the best "value" (held the most books for the least cost).

Activity Three: 45 Minutes

Each group was given one box of straws and 30 paper clips and asked to build a bridge to span between two tables spaced 10 inches apart. The bridges where then tested by stacking books on them to see how many they could hold before collapsing.

For more information about the many classes available for K12 students, see: Saturday Academy ( http://oregonstate.edu/precollege/academy )