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Recently, I had the pleasure of being a committee member for the annual bridge building contest hosted by Science Adventures Yukon and the Association of Professional Engineers of Yukon. Each year, students from schools throughout the Yukon (mostly Whitehorse) build bridges out of wooden coffee stir sticks, glue and dental floss and put them to a loading test. This year, we had about 100 beautiful bridges competing. My job (among others) was simple: keep adding weights to them until they break.

All these bridges ready to face their demise...

All these bridges ready to face their demise…




Loading up one bridge.  This design was probably the best.

Loading up one bridge. This design was probably the best.



It’s amazing to see what a few coffee sticks and dental floss can do. Some of these bridges were able to handle loads of around 88 kg. The best bridges this year were the ones constructed just like the bridge pictured above.

The bridge graveyard

The bridge graveyard



In addition to the bridge carnage, there were a few booths set up showing the different fields of engineering – each with some kind of demonstration pertaining to a particular field. I was asked if I would be able to build something in the electrical engineering field so I decided to make a remote control car using the Magician Chassis and a couple of XBees.

partyBot posing with the magician chassis.

partyBot posing with the magician chassis.



The remote control

The remote control



Giving the remote a bit of pizzazz

Giving the remote a bit of pizzazz



The remote innards.  Everything controlled by an Arduino Pro Mini

The remote innards. Everything controlled by an Arduino Pro Mini



Needless to say, the kids loved playing with the car! The unfortunate thing was that by the end of the day, the remote was nearly destroyed. A cardboard box isn’t overly good for structural support.

Having the bridges break suddenly can be startling at times but the entire event was a lot of fun. I hope to do this again next year.

A poster at the electrical engineering booth.  I had a good chuckle

A poster at the electrical engineering booth. I had a good chuckle