At the 33rd annual contest, held March 12 2013, the Circo family continued its recent domination of top spot. Matteo Circo, winner of the 32nd contest, not only set a new all-time record, he surpassed the previous high mark, set by his brother (see below) by a very wide margin. Leaving nothing to chance, Matteo built his tied arch structure to support an amazing 273.55 kg. For those not inclined to SI units, that corresponds to 603 lbs. When the Circo brothers appeared on the scene the contest record had stood unchallenged for a decade at 209.4 kg. Now they hold three of the top four all-time top spots for this long-running event. (pictures from the 2013 event above)
  New (2011) Contest Record: 220.0 kg
  At the 31st annual contest, held March 15 2011, a ten year-old record was broken as Physics 12 student Gino Circo, the winner of the 2010 contest, blew past the previous mark to set a new record of 219.95 (rounded to 220.0) kg. The previous record had been deemed out of reach by students for the past decade. Gino's bridge, based on his successful structure design from his entry in his Physics 11 year, was copied by others but none of those structures were up to the standards of construction set by this graceful entry.  
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Previous record-holding 100-gram bridge built in 2000 by Physics 12 student Matt Sullivan. This photo was taken after the bridge was put back together from the remnants. A portion of the roadway is missing. In an attempt to reduce overall mass several holes were drilled in the upper portion of the structure.
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Matt Sullivan with his award-winning bridge at the trophy presentation ceremony. The trophy, held here by sponsoring teacher Peter Vogel, has been presented annually since 1981. APEGBC, the professional body that governs engineering in this province, has been a contest sponsor since 1999.

The author with 1997 contest winners Clarissa Gamboa and Vanessa Wong (117.5 kg supported)

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Premier's Award for Excellence in Teaching

Canadian Association of Physicists Award 2011
TRIUMF report
Tumblr of CERN/LHC Award trip 2011

APEGBC President's Award 2011
Video produced for APEGBC award

This contest has been held annually since 1980. Hundreds of bridges have been tested. The students who take part in the contest are enrolled in either Physics 11 or Physics 12 at Notre Dame Regional Secondary School in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  All physics students at Notre Dame take part in the contest. While there is an evaluation component to the contest, the primary aim is for students to experiment with materials, in this case balsa wood and glue, and learn about structure and strength. Instructors wishing more information on the contest, in particular on the way it is run, may wish to contact me directly. A package of materials is available for instructors at a nominal fee to cover photocopying and shipping costs. A contest such as this is relatively straightforward and inexpensive to offer. There is no need for any "sophisticated" testing equipment. 
copyright 1994-2024
Peter Vogel
Last updated: December 13, 2023