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STEM Bridge Building Challenge at Somers Intermediate School

kids around their projectTowers? Check. Cables? Check? Suspenders? Check.
But can this bridge endure an earthquake? Third graders in Sandra Dulyk’s class were up to the challenge.

Students created their suspension bridges using paper towel rolls, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, straws, string, tape and more to withstand the “San Francisco Earthquake of 2022” – the shaking of their bridge spans by Jill Schantz of Challenge Island.

Schantz led the students through a brief history of earthquakes that shook bridges in San Francisco and challenged them to design and build their own bridge that could withstand an earthquake of similar magnitudes.

kids in classThe ideas were flying as students got to work designing their bridges. One group used popsicle sticks reinforced with tape for a jersey barrier so cars stayed on during a quake. They also created an extra safety mechanism - a railing by folding up the cardboard bridge lane. “I am making a railing so that the cars don’t fall off,” said Charlotte Frankie, who with her group, created the Green Gate Bridge. 

Their group also stuck the pipe cleaners inside the straws for suspension railings. “I think that putting the pipe cleaners inside the straw is going to make it stronger and more stable,” Donovan LaLuna said. Turns out he was correct. During the shake, the suspension railing stayed intact.

4 kids in classCarter Iglesias and his group used the popsicle sticks under the road to ward off buckling during the shaking. “Putting the sticks under the road was a little challenging,” Iglesias said. When they tested out their bridge, Fruity Cheering Bridge, they learned that the popsicle sticks kept the road intact but the gap between the two lanes proved to be the demise of several toy cars that fell into the San Francisco Bay.

“It was great how they all came up with some different ideas and really worked so well with their team for the challenge,” said Schantz, who will be visiting all third grade SIS classes for bridge building this week as well as other STEM enrichment activities for fourth and fifth grade coming up.

kids working on project with teacher