Recently a group of fifth grade students at DeForest Area Middle School participated in a STEM-related enrichment activity lead by science teacher Jeff Stern. The project involved building a bridge with toothpicks and skewers.
Students began with a fictitious $1.5 million budget to purchased their materials. They soon realized that the blueprints and supplies were very expensive. A single toothpick cost $10,000; a skewer, $25,000; land, $500,000, and welding supplies (glue) were $850. An audit of their books was done with a $2,000 cost for each mistake. After each bridge was built, it was tested for strength by attaching increasingly heavier weights, until the bridge snapped.
According to Stern, the winning group of students (pictured at left) built a bridge that withstood 34 pounds before breaking.