FAIR LAWN, NJ - Everyone who has attended Fair Lawn High School, including parents of those students, remembers the infamous Pasta Bridge Competition in which students create a bridge that can hold the maximum amount of weight in a lesson about physics and geometry.
For the 21st consecutive year, Fair Lawn High School hosted its "extremely popular Pasta Bridge Competition, where more than 350 students participated," according to district officials.
All geometry students are required to design and construct a bridge using Ronzoni Fettuccine and Elmer’s White Glue. Notice the specifics of the material, something that is required so there is no advantage for any one student because of a different product. A student's bridge must weigh less than 12 ounces, meet certain dimension requirements, and support at least 25 pounds to get full credit. The students strive to beat the record of 795 pounds set in 2008.
The culminating project takes place in the auditorium, as fellow geometry students and additional math classes watch as weights are placed on the bridge. Round one starts with students placing 5-pound weights on the bridge, then the weights are increased gradually until the bridge collapses. Students in the audience cheer each other on and a cowbell rings to signify that the goal weight has been met.
Research, attention to detail, and specific measurements are part of the key to a successful pasta bridge. The goal of the project is to apply geometry to create a bridge with strong supports. Triangles help to strengthen the bridges due to their rigidity. More than one bridge has been rebuilt several times before the due date, according to former students.
“The idea is to take what we’ve learned in class, work collaboratively and apply it to a physical product,” said Katie Ometz, geometry teacher at Fair Lawn High School. “The students also love a good competition!”
This year’s top bridge belonged to the team of Prea Gomez and Tyler Rehrer, students of Miss Stenz. Weighing in at 11.9 ounces, before it got smashed to pieces, the group’s bridge held 320 pounds.
The Most Aesthetically Pleasing Bridge belonged to Vita Lipnytska, also a student of Miss Stenz.