Engineering – Designing Bridges

This week the students participated in two Science AL!VE workshops. One workshop was titled Engineering Olympics and students used popsicle sticks, straws and masking tape to build their own bridges. The bridges were loaded up with weights until they collapsed and the students became so excited watching how much weight their bridge could hold.

I was also teaching the class about the Tacoma Narrows bridge which opened on July 1, 1940. During its construction, workers noticed the bridge deck began to move vertically during windy conditions, so they nicknamed it ‘Galloping Gertie’. On November 7, 1940 it was a windy day and this caused the bridge to sway violently and the concrete started to crack. Eventually the bridge collapsed due to aereoelastic flutter. There was no loss of human life. A single car was on the bridge and it belonged to Leonard Coatsworth. Inside of his car was his cocker spaniel ‘Tubby’. Professor Farquharson, who was involved in the design of the bridge, tried to rescue ‘Tubby’, but the dogĀ  was so terrified that it bit the professor. In university engineering and physics classes the Tacoma Narrows bridge and its design is studied by students.

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