Breaking bridges

10 August, 2009

Aurecon Bridge Building Competition winners 2009
Joe McDonald, Jacob Rayner and Tim Eastwood from Kaniva College received first prize for their bridge which supported 136kg.
Source: Museum Victoria

On Wednesday 5 August, Scienceworks hosted the annual Aurecon Bridge Building Competition (formally known as the Connell Wagner Bridge Building Competition) for the 9th year.

57 teams of Year 8 and 9 students from 52 schools across Victoria, 11 of which were from country schools, built then tested their bridges to the point of destruction. The event was hosted by Red Symons in the Scienceworks amphitheatre and was punctuated by the cheers of 156 students and their teachers, as weights loaded onto their bridges caused the wood, cardboard, string and glue constructions to crumple and snap.

Competing schools each received a pack containing materials and specifications approximately three weeks before judging day. This year's pack contained 16 balsa wood sticks, one cardboard tube, five metres of string and one tube of quick-drying epoxy glue; the materials themselves having a total mass of about 200 grams.

Teams of three students built their bridges during maths and science classes or in lunchtimes and brought them to Scienceworks for testing. Placed between two supports, each bridge had a rig suspended from it, from which weights were hung until the structure’s breaking point was reached. Bridges were also judged on aesthetics and design by representatives from Aurecon and Vic Roads.

This year's winners were the Year 9 boys’ team from Kaniva College, whose bridge supported a whopping 136kg, securing $1500 for their school. Each member of the team also received $200 for their efforts. The winners of the competition were announced on ABC radio that afternoon. Surprisingly, engineers from Aurecon and Vic Roads also built two bridges to be tested and only supported 48kg and 49kg respectively!

Second prize of $1000 for their school and $100 for each student went to a girls’ team from Leibler Yavneh College whose bridge supported 104kg. This team also won the Top Female team prize of $500 for their school and an additional $50 each.

Comments (1)

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David Staehr 12 August, 2009 10:32
Videos from 2009 are available on YouTube: and Alternatively, go to and search for Aurecon Bridge Building and you can access videos from 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009.
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