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Busting Bridges in Fort St. John

Popsicle stick contest honours National Engineering and Geoscience Month

Did you know that March was National Engineering and Geoscience month (NEGM)? Each March APEGBC hosts celebrations and contests geared to teach kids about the professions and get them excited about fun career possibilities. This year’s theme was “Be Curious. Stay Curious.” As added recognition, for the first time this year Fort St John City Council even issued a special proclamation for NEGM.


Building the Bridge to Knowledge

As part of the fun, APEGBC runs a popsicle stick bridge contest and provides free kits to those who want to get in on the action. The goal is to make a bridge out of glue and up to 100 popsicle sticks that will withstand the greatest load applied by a mechanical device—something the association dubs “bridge busting”. Participants of all ages can work either alone or in teams, and there are a variety of age categories to participate in. This year’s event on March 14 saw over 200 entries and took place at Dr. Kearney Middle School. The strongest bridge of the day held a whipping 437 lbs (198 kg).

Demystifying Engineering

A popsicle bridge  being put to the test
A popsicle bridge being put to the test
Chad Carlstrom of Urban Systems, the lead organizer for the bridge contest, says that the celebration is a great way to teach kids about engineering and geoscience.

“I truly think engineering is a great profession. When I was a young student I didn’t even know what an engineer did. I knew what doctors and lawyers did, but engineering was a hidden profession for me. I eventually went into the field blind on the advice of teachers, but I’m so glad I did. I see this contest as a great way to educate people about what engineers are all about. At the end of the day it challenges kids to explore science and to use their minds. Some kids are so passionate or excited about the challenge that they’ll create multiple bridges, it’s great to see.”

This year one enterprising student constructed three bridges—and took first, second and
third place.

“That was really neat,” says Chad. “His bridges weren’t all exactly the same; you could see him trying different designs and looking at the results of his different designs. This is the perfect example of someone starting to explore and understand science.”

APEGBC is the licensing and regulatory body responsible for BC’s professional engineers and geoscientists. The association is charged with protecting public safety in BC by setting and maintaining high standards of professional practice and ethical conduct for its members and licenses. To see APEGBC’s videos promoting NEGM visit: https://apeg.bc.ca/About-Us/Commitment-to-Community/National-Engineering-and-Geoscience-Month-(NEGM)

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