Pasta Bridge

Pasta Bridge

Credit to the Michigan Physics Olympiad

The information on this event is up to date.

Event Description:

In this activity, students will design and construct a pasta bridge prior to the competition. Students will have to consider various design principles to build the most efficient bridge possible to satisfy the specifications listed below. The weight of the bridge is unrestricted, but lighter, stronger bridges will earn the most points. At the competition, students will have a chance to make repairs caused by the journey, take a quiz relating to static equilibria, and put the bridges to the test.

Apparatus and Materials:

Bridge Specifications for work prior to competition:

  • The bridge is to be constructed out of store-bought pasta and glue. Only white glue and hot glue are permitted. Examples of prohibited adhesives include (but are not limited to) super glue, Gorilla glue, rubber cement and epoxies.
  • The bridge must span a 18″ chasm between two support surfaces.
  • The bridge shall not exceed 24″ in length, 6″ in width, nor extend more than 2″ below the surface of the support surfaces.
  • The bridge must be designed to support a 8″x1″x1″ loading bar. This apparatus needs to be placed perpendicular to the bridge at the midpoint of the gap between the surfaces. It can be placed on top of the bridge or through the bridge at the students’ discretion.

During the competition we will supply:

  • Hot glue and white glue for last-minute repairs.
  • Scratch paper and pencils for the quiz.
  • Scale.
  • Loading bar/weights for loading the bridge.
  • Safety goggles.

Event Rules:

  • Upon arriving, the judges will measure bridge dimensions.
  • Each team will collectively complete a 10 question quiz. Fifteen minutes will be allotted for the quiz.
  • Prior to the bridge trial, each bridge will be weighed to determine its mass.
  • During the test of each bridge, one student will add weight to the bucket until the bridge breaks. The bucket and loading bar will be weighed to determine the total supported mass.

Judging Criteria:

  • The overall score will be determined as follows: Quiz score x 0.25 + (Bridge score/ Best bridge score) x 0.75
  • Quiz score = (Number of correct questions)/10
  • Bridge score = (Total supported mass)/(Mass of the bridge)
  • Best bridge score is the top bridge score of the day.