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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

DMS Students Participate in the 19th Annual Model Bridge Competition at Northeastern

On Saturday, February 7th, Doherty Middle School students, Maya Jensen, Akshay Godhani, Alex Rickards, Ben Winkler, Jake Costello and their Engineering teacher/mentor Anthony Helinski, traveled to the Curry Student Center at Northeastern University to participate in the 19th annual Model Bridge Competition. The competition, sponsored by the Boston Society of Civil Engineers (BSCES), Massachusetts Pre-Engineering Program (MassPEP) and the Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) challenged students across the commonwealth to design then build a sturdy, efficient and aesthetically pleasing bridge from specified materials. In past years, students have used plastic forks, foam, spaghetti and manila folders. This season’s supplies included two key components, chopsticks and hot glue. Through a generous grant, needed supplies were mailed to participating teachers.

Guided by newly appointed and highly skilled Engineering teacher Mr. Helinksi, students enthusiastically embraced the challenge, rolled up their sleeves and began construction in November 2014. Following strict parameters and employing the engineering design process, the team met weekly to experiment with different models, discuss strategy and problem solve in the DMS engineering lab. In addition, students actively employed Andover’s learning philosophy the 4C’s - collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking.

As the contest date inched closer, the team met more frequently, putting in “overtime” to make up for snow days. While constructing, Grade 6 student Alex Rickards, who’s favorite subject is engineering, commented, “I love to figure out how things work”.

On the morning of the competition, students, together with their dedicated mentor, roamed the Northeastern campus in wonderment; they were thrilled to participate in a very professional and official competition. The energy in the building that day was palpable as students from Grade 3 through high school presented their bridges to a panel of local experts. Doherty students finished strong. More importantly, the hands-on competition offered students both a unique opportunity to experience real world problem solving and exposure to the engineering profession. The Doherty bridge building team is already planning for their second season. Let the games begin!
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