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Building bridges starts with the smallest

Destiny Kerr and Hanna Thul of Superior High School. (Photo by Richard Thomas)1 / 6
Jackson Baker and Eric Radke of Duluth East place a bridge between blocks of cement for strength testing. (Photo by Richard Thomas)2 / 6
Josh Wernke and Dylan Baker of Hermantown High School fill buckets with sand to test the bridge's strength. (Photo by Richard Thomas)3 / 6
Angelia Nguyen and Alayna Scheall of Hermantown recoil slightly as their bridge collapses under the weight. (Photo by Richard Thomas)4 / 6
Taylor Rockwell and Claire Early of Duluth East with the broken remains of their bridges. (Photo by Richard Thomas)5 / 6
Taylor Rockwell of Duluth East receives the "most aesthetically pleasing" award and is congratulated by Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. (Photo by Nick Patterson)6 / 6

High school students from around the region competed to build the strongest, most economical and most beautiful bridges out of toothpicks at the 24th annual competition on Feb. 28 in the Civil Engineering Laboratory at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

“The purpose of the event is to show high school students what it means to be a civil engineer in a fun, hands-on atmosphere,” said Mark Roberts, civil engineering senior laboratory service coordinator.

The students spent many hours prior to the event building their creations, which were inevitably meant to be destroyed. To test the strength of the structures, a wood beam was placed on top of the bridge, weighted down by buckets that the students filled with sand until the bridge collapsed.

Results are as follows:

Most aesthetically pleasing

First place: Taylor Rockwell, Duluth East

Second: Hannah Ewer, Hermantown

Third: Savannah Deragon, Bayfield

Most strength

First place: Tim Nelis and James Lagrew, Bayfield (Bridge weight 90.0 g / Load held 102.45 kg)

Second: Savannah Deragon, Bayfield (89.9 g / 94.40 kg)

Third: Taylor Rockwell, Duluth East (84.0 g / 50.35 kg)

Most economical

First place: Claire Earley, Duluth East (Bridge weight 30.1 g / Load held 14.60 kg)

Second: Nicole Blatchford and Joey Obeidzinski, Cloquet (49.6 g / 14.40 kg)

Third: Fisher Solberg, Mason Kosmatka, Cory Ohnsted and Aaron De Venecia, Duluth Marshall (53.9 g / 12.35 kg)