May 1, 2016

Using Only Pasta and Glue, Students Build Bridges Capable of Carrying at Least 251kg.

Would you believe that 1 kg of pasta could carry your older brother and your uncle who loves hamburgers with light beer on weekends? Would you believe that 1 kg of pasta could carry 251 kg? It is true – just take that 1 kg of pasta, glue it together and build a bridge!

For the fifth time Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and Faculty of Civil Engineering gather students and pupils to build bridges from all kinds of pasta and test how much they can carry. All participants have to build a bridge out of 2 components: pasta and glue. The bridge has to weigh up to 1 kg but it can carry enormous weights, for now the best result is 251 kg. Imagine that?

Usually, participants use spaghetti that from the first sight could look quite weak, however you have to know how to arrange them to hold out enormous weights. Students and pupils can come up with new constructional ideas that can be also easily adapted in real constructions. Most of the bridges are made really precisely. Usually they are made as arches, often as girders. These are two main types of bridges that can hold out a lot of weight.
Participants have to prepare a lot for this championship. They test pasta, prepare technical drawings and come up with creative and innovative constructions of the bridges. For example one of the teams tested all kinds of pasta from the supermarket in their dormitory room by putting on them a bucket and filling it with water – this way they tested which kind of pasta is the most flexible and could carry 122 kg. The other team has made 8 technical drawings until they decided which one is the best. They also brought back 50 cm long spaghetti from Italy. Dedication and preparation for this competition is as high as for Olympics. Most of the teams become addicted to this championship and participate every single year and each time they try to upgrade their previous construction.
Pasta Bridges championship is not about the results (which are spectacular) but about learning in a creative way, teamwork, figuring out mistakes and trying to get better and better every year. This is a championship of amazing results. When 1 kg bridge from pasta carries 251 kg, it showcases engineering in a fun and creative way, because building a pasta bridge is similar to building a real one. In both: real life and Pasta Bridges championship you have to complete a project from the beginning till the end. 
So now you know that you can take 1 kg of pasta, build a bridge and if you are unsuccessful for the first time, you can try again and again – especially when you can cook and eat the leftovers.