Friday, February 8, 2013

Civil Engineering students mentor Benton STEM students

Brad Mann's Civil Engineering 2 students Quinn Pestle, Morgan Brown, Malik Baskett, Andrew Bair, and Aaron McMurry visited Benton Elementary school to  perform strength tests on bridges built by John Gerhart's 3rd grade students. Benton is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) school, where students are immersed in STEM subjects, making the collaboration with Career Center students a natural fit. The challenge for the Benton students was to build a bridge of  popsicle sticks that was lightweight yet capable of supporting a large amount of weight. Students were free to build structures of their own design and given 200 sticks to construct the structures. The bridges were then strength tested by CACC Civil Engineering students who weighed each bridge and subjected it to stress by means of suspending weights from the bridge.  The tests determined how much each would support before breaking. An Efficiency Factor or ratio of the weight of the bridge to the amount of weight the bridge could hold was then calculated to determine the winner. The winning bridge supported 150 pounds! This project teaches physics and forces such as loads, tension, compression, shear and torsion, in a hands on approach that kids will remember for years to come.

Quinn Pestle and Malik Baskett attach weights to bridge

Weights are evenly distributed 

All bridges are subjected to the same method

Students patiently await their turn

Civil Engineering students Andrew Bair and Aaron McMurry add weight as part of the test

 Morgan Brown gives a thumbs up!


  1. It is powerful when high school students mentor elementary students. What a wonderful experience for all ages. Thanks for taking time to work with our Benton Elementary friends. All of these young people will remember that day for a very long time.

  2. LOVE the picture where the students are all sitting there watching the bridges being weighed! I bet they enjoyed having the high schoolers in their classroom. Must have made them feel important!

  3. I just wanted to thank Brad and all the Civil Engineering Students who participated. My step son Julian who is anxiously waiting to have his bridge tested in one of the above pics was so excited. He came home that day and was so excited about the project. He told me about all the students who came from the Columbia Area Career Center to help test the bridges. He truly was excited to share his experience and it definitely made their day! Jon Schulte/Professional & Community Education.

  4. My step-son Julian who is pictured above is waiting to have his bridge tested by the Civil Engineering students. I just wanted to thank Brad Mann and the students who participated in this event. You truly made a difference. I typically have to pry information from Julian about his days activities. He was so excited that day when he came home. He wouldn't stop talking about the students, the Career Center, the bridges and how much weight his bridge held. He had a little piece of paper in his pocket that he showed me and he was so proud of it. It showed the weight that his bridge held. It's a great day and a great success when your kid comes home from school that excited! Thank you!


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