Popsicle Stick Bridge Contest back for 10th year

Pandemic prompts new approach to kit distribution and testing

Sunshine Coasters of all ages and especially students in Grades 1 to 12 are once again invited to try their hand at building a bridge out of popsicle sticks, with a total of $1,000 in cash and other prizes for the bridges that withstand the greatest force.

This is the 10th year for the contest and the organizers are hoping for a bridge that beats the Sunshine Coast record set in 2013 of 405 kilograms (894 pounds) set by Lisa Murata, a long-time event participant and one of this year’s organizers.

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While COVID-19 has presented real challenges, a much different approach to bridge kit distribution and testing will be required, say the organizers. Bridge contest chair John Leech said, “We heard from parents, teachers and students concerned that the bridge contest would not be offered this year. In response we have developed a process by which the contest can go ahead and at the same time follow the rules and keep people safe.” 

Leech said the organizing group wants to give students and families something fun to do, and at the same time learn a bit about engineering and scientific principles. “With COVID-19 we have come to know more about health sciences and with the bridge contest we hope to generate a greater interest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math,” Leech said. The event is being organized under the banner of Technology Festival (TechFEST), with support from Engineers & Geoscientists BC (EGBC) and the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC). 

The bridge contest organizers will use technology to broadcast testing, so the usual community gathering to witness the excitement of testing will not happen in 2020. Bridge building kit distribution was another big stumbling block, but a solution has been found. Eight different businesses have stepped up to help distribute the kits. Students and adults can go to one of the following stores and ask for a Popsicle Stick Bridge Building Kit. There is a $5 non-refundable fee for each kit and the exact amount in cash is required. 

In Gibsons, pick up kits from: Home Hardware, 921 Gibsons Way; Park Road Automotive, 661 Park Rd.; and Wheatberries, 818 Gibsons Way. 

In Sechelt, pick up kits from: Pastimes Toy Store, 5496 Trial Ave.; ReStore, 5605 Sunshine Coast Hwy.; Sew Easy, Trail Bay Mall, 5755 Crowie St.; and, in Wilson Creek, Sunco Building Materials, 1945 Field Rd. 

In Madeira Park, pick up kits from Oak Tree Market, 12875 Madeira Park Rd. 

Bridges must be registered by June 15. When you register, the organizers will send each registrant a Bridge Number. More information is available online at Sunshine Coast Popsicle Stick Bridge Contest on Facebook. For the safety of volunteers, the completed bridges, together with full registration information (included in the bridge kits), can be dropped off on June 18, 19 or 20 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 296 Second St., Gibsons (up Harry Road and left on Second). Other drop-off sites will be announced. 

Testing will take place on Sunday, June 28 starting at 1 p.m. The event will be streamed live so everyone will get to see their bridge being tested. 

– Submitted

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