High school students build a bridge made of uncooked spaghetti

Min Lee, a rising junior at the Gilman School, and Chris Endryas, a rising senior at Calvert Hall College High School, built a bridge out of uncooked spaghetti and epoxy glue July 29 at the sixth annual Spaghetti Bridge Competition on atJohns Hopkins University.

Their goal: To attach weights to the bottom of the bridge to see how much it could hold without shattering.

They and their team tested the bridge for compression, tension and bending, among other material properties. They even tested the maximum axial load that a long, slender column can carry without buckling, using an engineering formula called the Euler buckling load — "if you want to put that in (this story) and make us look smart," Lee told a reporter, tongue in cheek.

Lee, of Reisterstown, and Endryas, of Nottingham, were among 85 handpicked high school students from around the world who are enrolled in a summer Engineering Innovations program at Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering. Students who earn an A or B in the course will receive three early college credits, said Meg Bentley, manager of the program, which is offered through Hopkins' Center for Educational Outreach, which is based in the engineering school.

Students from Friends and Towson High also are participating in the program.

"The course gives them a solid introduction to what engineering in college would be like," Bentley said. "We just throw it at them and see if it sticks. The idea is to expose as many kids to engineering as possible, and to get them to think for themselves. It's a problem-solving course."

Lee and Endryas said their team, which included Brandon Jones, of Woodlawn High, and Cara Plott, of Annapolis, did pretty well, with a bridge that held 8 kilograms, about 17.6 pounds. But that was far short of the effort by Zoe Roberts, of Bellingham, Wash.; Kelsey Powderly, of Rochester, N.Y., and Sarp Kurum, of Turkey. Their bridge held 34 kilograms, or about 75 pounds, before breaking.

But Lee and Endryas still had a fine time.

"It really prepares you for what college is going to be like," Lee said.

And Endryas said, "It's a lot of work, but you learn a lot."

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