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Kids have knack for bridge-building

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They may be the proverbial rookie class, but the nursery and kindergarten students at Dufferin School have top bragging rights for at least a couple of weeks.

On March 19, the school held a small Spaghetti Bridge competition as part of a short assembly, with the Room 3 nursery and kindergarten class building a bridge that withstood nearly 116 kilograms of pressure before crunching in half.

"It was such a big joke, that spaghetti could be this strong," said teacher Jane Fast, who helped students build the bridge alongside student education assistant Chantelle Simard.

The competition is a small outreach and offshoot of the larger competition the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of Manitoba (APEGM) has held annually for high school physics students since 1996.

In the competition, students can only use spaghetti and white glue to construct a bridge weighing a maximum of 350 grams. The APEGM then tests the bridges to see how much weight they can bear before breaking.

Dan Spangelo, an APEGM representative, called engineering a "hidden profession."

The average person doesn’t cross paths with engineers as much as other professions like teachers, doctors and dentists. Coming to the K-6 school is a chance to connect with students who don’t know much about the people responsible for building basic water and electricity systems, or the roof of their school, Spangelo said.

Simard, who showed the students how to layer and structure their bridge, said the competition was an exercise in having fun.

"Students had glue up to their elbows," she laughed.

"It was just about getting their hands dirty and having fun."

For more, call 204-774-3409 or visit www.wsd1.org/Dufferin.

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