What do craft sticks, students waiting for Christmas break, and wood glue have in common? New Hope Christian Academy Science Olympiad!
A tradition at New Hope to close out the semester is an upper school Science Olympiad competition. Every afternoon during exam week students gather together and are given a science challenge. These challenges range from building a straw tower with 100 drinking straws and 60 cm of masking tape, to identifying some of God’s wildest creatures, to testing their craft stick bridges. The challenges are carefully selected to draw upon different science concepts and knowledge base. Some Challenges are repeated the following year, assuming that the quality of response will increase (so far, the responses have increased).
Students are divided into cross grade groups allowing sixth grade students to provide leadership for their groups and fourth grade students provide a fresh outlook to the problem/challenge they are given.
We are always surprised at the problem solving ability of our students. Often times the students with the highest grades are not necessarily the best at these challenges. Students learn to appreciate the knowledge and ideas of their group members.
The long awaited for finale is the testing of the bridges. Students may work solo or in small groups to construct a bridge of craft sticks and wood glue. These bridges are then tested to the breaking point. Students see firsthand what designs are the strongest. That more sticks are not necessarily the best bridge, but the design is what counts.
This year we turned the final bridge testing time into a celebration of bridges from around the world. Large photos of some of these amazing bridges were placed on tables with foods from the bridge’s origin. The France table was especially popular with French pastries and a picture of the proposed trampoline bridge across the Seine River in Paris.
Six student bridges held 124 lbs (a sixth grade student). We feel confident that the bridges can hold additional weight. How much more???