Toothpick Bridge Holds 41.25 Pounds in Annual Competition

The 4th Annual Lucerne Valley Elementary School “Bridge Building Competition” on May 30 proved once again that young people armed with knowledge can create something amazing.
This year, a team of three students from Mrs. Paddack’s 6th-grade class built a bridge of toothpicks that held 41.25 pounds during an exciting competition in the school’s cafeteria on May 30. Calling themselves GDAR Construction, the team consists of Lucerne Valley Middle School-bound students Samuel Arreola, Arelyn Gonzalez and Zoey Davis.
While the spirited competition offers a fun diversion just a day before school let out, the process teaches many valuable math, engineering and STEM-related skills.
“This is a very involved and detailed project. Each group is given a budget of $1,550,000 to begin,” explained teacher Leah Paddack. “Their first purchase includes their land and their starter kit of lumber, which is actually toothpicks, welding material (wood glue), checks, a check register, and various other papers and materials. This first purchase is $550,00, which leaves each group with $1 million to spend at their discretion in order to build their bridge.”
Depending on class sizes, groups can range between three and five members. There are five different jobs for each group: project director, architect, lead carpenter, transportation chief, and an accountant, according to Mrs. Paddack.
“Each job has specific requirements and restrictions,” she says. “For instance, the architect designs the bridge to scale from three different viewpoints on graph paper and is responsible for directing the team how to build but cannot actually build themselves. The accountant has to not only fill out order forms for supplies and write a check for the items, but keep a correct balance in the check register, as well. The transportation chief is the only team member allowed out of their seats in order to take the order to the I. Saw. Construction Company warehouse where the orders are filled by the teacher.”
But like real life, there’s more to building a small but mighty bridge than just gluing toothpicks together. Groups can receive fines and fees for various discrepancies, as well. The winner is whoever’s bridge holds the most weight. If there is a tie, the tie breaker would go to the team who spent the least amount on their bridge. 
The following are the teams that competed in the Bridge Building Competition:
GDAR Construction - 41.25 lbs
Losers Never Cook Jolly Ranchers 31.75 lbs
Dumbo Construction - 21.75 lbs
Bridges R Us - 15.25 lbs
Hurricane Industries - 8 lbs
People - 8 lbs
TXT - 5.25 lbs
Lunar - 2.5 lbs
Emojis - 2.5 lbs
A’s Construction - 2.5 lbs
Edvanced Engineers 8 lbs (DQ)
SBRA Company - DQ
Bridge Experts - DQ
GMAC - 0 lbs
Winning Welders - 0 lbs
Photos by Mr. Reuben Rivas
First place team from Mrs. Paddack’s class, GDAR construction, consists of (from left) Samuel Arreola, Arelyn Gonzalez, and Zoey Davis.
Second place team from Mrs. Paddack’s class, Losers Never Cook Jolly Ranchers, from left to right, Lafcadio Graves, Cheyenne Flowers, Jadyn Paddack, and Noah Lindner.
The third place team from Ms. Lane’s class, the Winning Welders, from left to right, Rochelle DuBoise, Natalee Hite, Jasmine Torres, Gerdaro Orozco.