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Montco Students Learn Engineering Skills in ‘Bridges & Boats’ Competition

(A student reacts as weight is added to a bucket being supported by his team's bridge.  Credit: Mike DeNardo)

(A student reacts as weight is added to a bucket being supported by his team’s bridge. Credit: Mike DeNardo)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

ELKINS PARK, Pa. (CBS) —  It’s like “Iron Chef” for engineers: a real-life lesson in engineering and construction today for a group of schoolkids in Elkins Park.

“The students receive a set of materials that they don’t really know what they are until they get them,” explains science teacher Glen Feinberg.

In the “Bridges & Boats” competition, fourth- and seventh-graders at the Perelman Jewish Day School in Elkins Park have to build both a boat and a bridge from those materials.

“We took a bunch of straws, layered them on the bottom, and tried to make them as even as possible,” says 13-year-old Ari Hirsch, describing his team’s boat design.  “And then we put some popsicle sticks over it to level it out.  And then we wrapped it all in tinfoil to try and waterproof it, and taped it all together.”

The projects are judged by how much weight they can bear before their bridge collapses and their boat sinks.

Drexel University engineering students were on hand to offer advice, and to serve as role models for these budding bridge and boat builders.

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