Students, families, 4-Hers and residents from DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties put their engineering skills to the test in the Fourth Annual 4-H Bridge Busting Competition on Saturday, Jan. 9.
Two families, one from Plano and one from Aurora, claimed the overall top prizes in Aesthetics and Structural Efficiency, and several other local teams placed in the top three in their divisions.
In all, more than 25 teams competed in this year’s competition sponsored by 4-H Youth Development through University of Illinois Extension, and partners Rural King of Plano and Fox Valley Family YMCA.
“We had another successful year of tough structural competition and many creative designs,” said Jo Ann Britton, 4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator with University of Illinois Extension. “The Bridge Busting Competition provides area youth and families with a unique way to challenge their brains, work together and learn about engineering principles, all while having fun.”
For weeks, registered teams designed and built their entries, and on Saturday, teams competed in several divisions: family, youth, elementary, middle school and high school.
Aesthetics is judged on provided specifications, quality of craftsmanship, sound structural design and originality. Structural efficiency is determined by a calculation based on maximum weight supported and the weight of the bridge.
The Gugala family team of Plano earned the Overall Aesthetics prize, following their victory in the Family Division. The team was represented by Steve Gugala and his son Jacob.
The Overall Structural Efficiency Award went to the Schultz family team of Aurora, who also won the same title in the Family Division. The team included Ryan Schultz and his children Andrew and Anika. The team’s bridge held more than 31 pounds with a total rating of 419.283.
During the judging, attendees and teams learned about real-world projects in construction, design and engineering from Yorkville-native Chris Erickson, a senior project manager with Power Construction, and Kyle M. Pearl, a bridge engineer at AECOM.
The full results of the 2016 Bridge Bust are as follows:
Family Division: Aesthetics Awards: first place, the Gugala family of Plano; second, the Schultz family of Aurora; and third, the Wood family of North Aurora. Structural Efficiency Awards: first place, Schultz; second, Wood; and third, Gugala.
Youth Division: Aesthetics Awards: first place, the Gajapala Team of Naperville; second, the Trinity Trailblazers 4-H Club of DuPage County; and third, Pack 159 of Batavia. Structural Efficiency Awards: first place, Pack 159; second, Gajapala; third, Trinity Trailblazers 4-H Club.
Elementary School Division: Aesthetics Awards: first place, Yorkville Intermediate School Team 1; second, Yorkville Intermediate School Team 4; and third, Yorkville Intermediate School Team 2. Structural Efficiency Awards: first place, Yorkville Intermediate School Team 3; second, Grand Reserve Elementary School Team 2 (Yorkville); and third, Yorkville Intermediate School Team 4.
Middle School Division: Aesthetics Awards: first place, O’Neill Middle School Team 3 (Downers Grove); second, Thompson Junior High School, team 2 (Oswego); and third, Thompson Junior High School Team 4. Structural Efficiency Awards: first, O’Neill Middle School Team 3; second, O’Neill Middle School Team 1; and third, Thompson Junior High School Team 4.
High School Division: Aesthetics Awards: first place, St. Charles North High School Team 2; second, St. Charles North High School Team 1; and third, St. Charles North High School Team 3; Structural Efficiency Awards: first, St. Charles North High School Team 2.
“This project and event were awesome,” said Pack 159 leader Michael Sliczniak. “In Scouts, we focus on outdoor skills and patriotism, and this gave us an opportunity to earn our engineering badge in a new way. It took four very long den meetings, but we learned a lot and worked as a team.”
Thompson Junior High School students Isabella Frunzar and Zoe Wareman said they not only learned about bridge design and engineering, but also about planning and time management.
“This project really brings together many skills from start to finish,” said Britton. “It encourages organization, teamwork and communication skills, as well as engineering, physics, math and more.”
During the event, participants and spectators alike also had the opportunity to witness robotics demonstrations, participate in electricity experiments and Arduino technology, and create a DNA-inspired bracelet. The activities were led by 4-H Science Ambassadors, a group middle school and high school students who learn and share STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects with their communities.
This annual event was sponsored by 4-H and University of Illinois Extension, with cooperation and materials from Rural King and hosted by the Fox Valley Family YMCA. Event volunteers included: Russ Benning, Monica Crinion, Chris Erickson, Ted Gibbons, Josh and Kristine Hill, Pete Lammers, Brandon Kunkel, Jeff and Austin Nakaerts, and Kyle Pearl.
“We are grateful to our partners, volunteers and guests for making this annual event a great success,” Britton said. “We look forward to the event each year, and enjoy seeing the more than 150 people who come out to participate and watch our Bridge Bust.”
For more information about the event or local 4-H and Youth Development programs, contact your county Extension office, or visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/.
–Family teams take top honors at Bridge Bust Competition