Bridge Breaking with Woodworking


Ryne Wilson and Kaia Edwards

Recently, in Woodworking,  6th Grade students were able to dive straight into a new form of art centered around building bridges. These bridges were constructed by hand and assembled using popsicle sticks. Students would make bridges that were judged based on creativity, good looks, sturdiness and uniqueness. However, the coup de grace of the entire project was that all students who wanted to were able to destroy their own bridges.

George Gibby, a woodshop aide for first period, served as a foreman for the project, and monitored the work of the students throughout the entire process. He says that “It’s great watching these students expand their own knowledge about this subject, as well as being educated myself.” Meanwhile, in the perspective of one of the bridge builders, 6th grader Faye Wear remarked that this type of art and craftsmanship was completely new to her. She was very happy to have the opportunity to engage in it.

Students in first period woodshop were generally ecstatic about viewing and causing the destruction of their creations. They were very cheery and eager to see how much each bridge could hold. While the aide was writing up names for each peer, they were building up anticipation about destroying the bridges. Before they began, they also held a vote. The vote was for four different categories. The categories defined who’s bridge was the most unique, sturdy, best looking, and most creative. The voting was democratic and the students were given cards to place at one bridge they would like to nominate for each category. The students walked around the room observing each other’s creations strategically. As they were walking around, the students explained that each bridge was a week’s build and they were actually quite difficult to make. The students explained that it was not easy to create a design that would be both unique, but also very stable and strong.

Once the students were done voting, they gathered around and began the breaking. Bridges were secured tightly onto a 2 x 4 with a support beam pulling weight down on the bridge. The student first in line would place their bridge onto the contraption and it would be tightened. The student would then place weights on the wood to pull more and more weight on the bridge. The weights varied in size, measuring 20, 15, 10, and 5 pounds. Once the bridge could hold no more, it would in a way explode into a pile and extra bits of wood. The top weights held on different bridges were 25, 35, and 50 pounds. 

There was also a bit of competition involved as well. The top three students who built the sturdiest bridges were decorated with fame and bragging rights. In first place, Christopher Synan’s bridge made from wooden sticks could hold 90 pounds. Close behind, Ryder Kahler’s could resist 85 pounds, and to top it off, Preston Berry’s bridge held 70 pounds.

 In conclusion, the students had a very unique experience with this project. They learned how to do things in a hands-on manner and had lots of fun doing it. Woodshop is a very unique class in general, and from watching their experiences we believe anyone would enjoy this. Woodshop is a special part of Fremont, and it is very enjoyable.