STEM spaghetti challenge 2018: bridge building

March 30, 2018

32 Southmead children from years 4 and 5 took part in the annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) challenge, run by the North Devon Manufacturers Association. This year the challenge was to build a suspension bridge capable of holding an egg, using only spaghetti, marshmallows and a small amount of sellotape. Two prizes were up for grabs: a 1st prize of £75 for the team who could build the longest bridge capable of holding one egg, and a 2nd prize of £25 for the strongest structure, which held the most eggs.

The children worked in teams of 4 and were given 10 minutes to plan and then 15 minutes to build their bridges. The children could choose the distance they wanted to span, which was recorded as the length of their bridge. At the time of our competition, 14 other schools had already completed the challenge: the longest bridge so far had spanned a gap of 42cm and the strongest bridge so far had held 8 eggs …

This egg-ceptional report was written by some of the children who took part from class 5/6ES.   


“The STEM challenge was a lot of fun. Although we wanted a team from Southmead to win, we were still very competitive. Unfortunately our bridge collapsed with five minutes of building-time to go, and by the time we had to stop building we were all marshmallow-covered! Even though our bridge had already fallen onto the floor, the STEM Ambassador (the judge) kindly allowed us to have two more minutes to put it back together, so in front of everybody we tried to make something bridge-like out of our fallen structure. We moved the tables really close together and made the shortest but strongest bridge in history! When it was finished we put on the first egg, egg-specting to see it fall and crack, but it stayed on for the 30 seconds. We had made a bridge that worked!” Elise Smith


“Our team had a good plan but it went wrong! We had a few arguments about the design, but we laughed a lot! We made bundles of spaghetti and stuck the spaghetti to the marshmallows. We tried to beat the record for the strongest bridge. Our bridge didn’t hold all 9 eggs for 30 seconds, but as only 4 fell off, it was a Southmead record. The whole thing was a fun and good egg-sperience.”  Holly Selvey & Ruby Darby


“When we came to school I was really egg-cited and couldn’t wait to get started. When we did start we had 10 minutes to think about our design and discuss our plan for the bridge. We all had so many great ideas, we didn’t know which one to choose! At our table were our materials, which were spaghetti, marshmallows, a small roll of sellotape, a chopping board, a dinner knife, and a pair of scissors. There were quite a few rules which did make it a bit harder (e.g., you could only use the tape for the joints, and there were only 15 minutes for building the bridge). We’d only done half of our bridge, when suddenly there was only 5 minutes to go! We finished it just in time! Our team watched as all the other teams took turns to test their bridges by putting eggs on them.” Kyla McCarthy


“First we arrived at the hall and looked at all the tables with all of the equipment, whilst we waited for our Judge (Paul Mullen). When he arrived, he told us the rules and what materials we could use. We were allowed: 160g of spaghetti, 12 marshmallows, a roll of sellotape, a dinner knife, scissors, and a chopping board. We had 10 minutes to discuss, and 15 minutes to build the bridge. It was very competitive, but our team (Felix, Kyla, Ricky and me) are currently in the lead with a bridge which crossed a gap that was 65 cm wide!” Martha Chambers-Wilson


“STEM was amazing, especially with our bridge being 65cm and the longest in the competition! I felt so happy and egg-static. I hope we know the results soon and can take part in another STEM competition next year.” Ricky Sturley

Nineteen schools from across North Devon took part in the STEM challenge, this year. Prizes will be awarded to the school and team who built the longest bridge to hold an egg (£75), and the strongest bridge which held the most eggs (£25). The winning school and team will also be invited to receive their award at the North Devon Manufactures Awards Evening, on 10th May 2018, at the Barnstaple Hotel.

With four schools still to go, Southmead are in the lead!  Watch this space!



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