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Under the motto "Bridges Connect", interested pupils were challenged this year to build a resilient bridge out of toothpicks.


Gruppe der Gewinnerinnen und Gewinner bei der Preisverleihung an der TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

Wooden toothpicks and any kind of glue could be used to construct the bridge with given dimensions. The winning bridge had to withstand as high a load as possible. The task of the participating pupils was also to record the development process of the bridge in a protocol.

A total of 30 self-constructed bridges were submitted for the competition, which were evaluated by the jury according to creativity, load-bearing capacity and the quality of the development protocol. The bridge built by 10-year-old primary school pupil Philip Helbig (Class 4 of Großsteinberg Primary School in the district of Leipzig) convinced the jury: His construction withstood 6984 N, which corresponds to about 700 kg. Converted, this results in a bending moment of 879.8 Nm/kg normalised to the mass of the bridge.

To make the bridge stable, the winner ground down the toothpicks and cut the tips. "Planning the construction and trying out the best bonding method took the longest. Then building the bridge itself was quite easy," said Philip Helbig at the award ceremony.

Prizes for the most creative and lightest constructions

Other pupils also received awards: Clemens Arnold (class 6 Martin-Rinckart-Gymnasium, Eilenburg) and Daria Zashchelkina, Coralie Beer and Moritz Schreiter (class 9 Landkreis-Gymnasium St. Annen, Annaberg-Buchholz) received the prize for the best protocol. Peter Efraim Brause (Class 11, Philadelphia School, Zittau) was awarded the Creative Prize; Nils Oriwol, Lino Sobe and Jonny Kaiser (Class 12, BSZ Julius Weisbach, Freiberg) received the Lightweight Construction Prize and Laura Meyer, Lena Klotz and Linda Reichel (Class 9 Landkreis-Gymnasium St. Annen) were honoured for the best submission by female participants.

The award ceremony marks the beginning of an exciting day of research for the group at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg with guided tours of the electron beam laboratory and many experiments of their own in the laboratory of the Centre for Efficient High-Temperature Material Conversion, which is specially equipped for school groups.

Background: Materials Competition for Pupils

The school competition on the topic of materials has been taking place at TU Bergakademie Freiberg since 2011. The competition is organised by the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering in cooperation with the university's "Science meets School" student laboratory. The foundation "Saxony. Land of Engineers" supports the competition by sponsoring the prize money of 500 euros.

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