Contest Tests Novice Bridge Builders
KITCHENER — The tension kept building on the bridge, and its novice bridge makers, with each brick added.
The narrow span made of toy construction pieces by Samantha Reaume and her daughter, Lyla, 4, looked precarious. But it stood firm under the sixth and final brick — and Lyla was overjoyed.
“We did it,” her mother said before the pair shared high fives.
The Reaume family tested their engineering acumen at the K’Nex bridge-building competition at Themuseum in downtown Kitchener this weekend, hosted by the Grand River chapter of the Professional Engineers Ontario. This is the fifth year for the event, held during National Engineering Month in March. The aim is to introduce engineering to more children and get them excited about the career option.
“It gives them an idea what engineering is all about,” said Jonathan Velasco, one of the chapter members volunteering at the weekend event. “This is the right time to show them.”
Family engineering teams hunkered down on mats on the museum’s main floor next to boxes filled to the rim with K’Nex building pieces, carefully planning and constructing their bridges. Those with limiting bridge-building experience were not left on their own.
“The volunteers give them ideas,” Velasco explained. Triangles, for instance, are strong.
Once a bridge was complete, it was brought over to the testing area. There one brick after another was added to the miniature span to test the design’s stability. By Sunday afternoon, there was a good collection of bridges that withstood the six-brick stability test. Those were entered in a draw to win a toy kit to continue honing their engineering abilities.
“It’s quite discouraging if the little ones see their bridge fall apart,” Velasco said. “When it can carry, they’re so excited.”
Lyla was proud to add her bridge to the pile after donning a pair of safety glasses to pose with it for a photo.
“We did it. Against all odds,” her mother said.
Her father Scott Reaume and little brothers Damian, 2, and Calvin, two months, continued working on another bridge. Dad did most of the work while Calvin snoozed and Damian burned off some energy. The Stratford family are museum members and come most weekends. Walking into the hands-on bridge-building competition was a nice surprise.
“It’s a bonus,” Samantha said. “It keeps them busy and it’s fun for us.”