Polk Middle School team places first in NCDOT Model Bridge Building Competition

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, May 3, 2022

This year’s North Carolina Department of Transportation Model Bridge Building Competition took place virtually on Friday, April 29. Polk County Middle School was one of the competitors at the middle school level. Team members this year included Charlie Wagoner (7th grade), Emma Blomely (6th grade), Ryan Blomely (6th grade), Adelyn Kennedy (6th grade) and Patrick Pittman (6th grade). These members met twice a week to practice building and perfect competition skills.


There are four components to the competition – a written report, a skit, a review of our bridge plans, and model bridge weight testing.   

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The report includes elements on bridge history and styles, bridge terminology, and a review of our bridge model. The skit is limited to 7 minutes in length and must dramatically showcase our bridge and the bridge report. The PCMS skit this year took on the form of a presidential debate where each team member represented one type of bridge touting its strengths and weaknesses.


The final, and most exciting, part of the competition was the weight testing and plan review.  During weight testing NCDOT engineers attached an empty bucket to the bridge and slowly began filling it with sand until it collapsed. Each bridge model had to have a 20” clear span with 3” clearance below the bridge deck, have a 2” wide roadway and weigh less than 30 grams.  The PCMS bridge was a truss bridge that met each of the requirements.  


This year’s bridge held 15.18 pounds of sand before collapsing, scoring a 229 point efficiency rating, meaning it held 229 times its dead weight of 30 grams.


The competition is sponsored by the N.C. Department of Transportation – in partnership with Carolinas Associated General Contractors and the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina. Prize money will be awarded to PCMS to continue the bridge building team.


The team would like to send a special thank you to Buildz, located in Forest City, for making copies of our bridge plans in large scale and for creating a large poster of our bridge model which will be proudly posted at the school.


Submitted by Dale Rush