Ith Toothpick Bridge Gathering

This year, I finally managed to go see the Toothpick Bridge Building Event at the Fernbank Science Center (I’ve tried, and missed, for three years; this year, success!). Several of us went, including myself, Jenn, Courtney, David and Alex.

Toothpick Bridge Building Contest

Everyone had a great time. The bridge that held the most weight clocked in at 163 pounds or so. Another managed 141 lb. It was a great time watching all the young kids and teens bring their truss up for destructive testing!

In fact, everyone had such a good time that it was universally acknowledged a home contest must be held. Thus…

The Ith Toothpick Bridge Gathering

This gathering will be held at the residence of Jennifer Bowie and Bill Ruhsam on a date to be determined. Entry fee will be negotiable. It will involve either food or beer.

There will be two judged, two acclaimed and one quantitative categories for the toothpick bridges. Other categories may be added as time goes by. These categories will be:

  • Judged
  1. Prettiest
  2. Ugliest
  • Acclaimed
  1. Most Likely to Succeed
  2. Least Likely to Succeed
  • Quantitative
  1. Zero Side Force Truss Bridge (i.e. simply supported)
  2. Open (i.e. arched, catenary, triangular: anything with a side-load at the supports)

Rules will be fleshed out as time goes by. 100 gram mass limit on the bridge seems good. As does a requirement that all construction be made from round toothpicks and white Elmers-brand glue. The loading setup will be such that every bridge is tested to DESTRUCTION so we’ll have to do all the qualitative judging before any loading begins.

Must not necessarily be present to win. If someone (ahem!) wants to mail me their entry, we’ll be happy to throw it into the pool. Photographic evidence will be provided.

That’s the thoughts so far. More detail to come later.

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5 Responses to Ith Toothpick Bridge Gathering

  1. Sharon says:

    Maybe I can win something! I’m a shoo-in for bridge Least Likely To Succeed. (Especially if I have to build it while preparing for Momocon and potentially moving.

  2. Mike L says:

    “…all construction be made from round toothpicks and white Elmers-brand glue”

    Bah, that just sucks all the fun out of it for the chemistry folks. Although I suppose you didn’t specify what the toothpicks had to be made out of…

  3. Bill Ruhsam says:

    @Mike L: We’re shooting for a level playing field. We can add another category for chemists-with-glue-degrees if you like.

    I will have to insist that all toothpicks be the same diameter and length, within specifications. I don’t have my calipers on me right now, but I can get back to you on that. So, if you want to have toothpicks manufactured out of teak, be my guest. :)

  4. Mike L says:

    I was thinking along the lines of using plactic toothpicks (of regulation diameter and length, I swear, quit pointing those calipers at me), dissolving them in a nice organic solvent, and recasting them as minature plastic I-beams. I wonder, if you broke down some regular toothpicks to wood fibre, would they mix well enough with the plactic to produce a decent composite material? Hmmm….

    Or would all that be considered a small, totally non-abusive bending of the rules?

  5. Pingback: The Evil Eyebrow » Party! And Toothpicks!

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