Students Stun with Science at the 46th Annual Colorado High School Bridge Building Competition

Media Contact: Lauren Meredith, 303-445-2945

For Release: February 23, 2013

The Bureau of Reclamation today proudly hosted students from across Colorado for the 46th Annual Colorado High School Bridge Building Competition. Participants from Cheyenne Mountain High School, Cherry Creek High School and Longmont took home top honors, which included scholarships and prizes, with their homemade bridges.

In Region One, Ancil Lindley took first place with a 27.98 grams (.98 ounces) basswood bridge that held 121.61 kilograms (268.1 pounds) - approximately 4,346 times its own weight. Ryan Keefe of Cherry Creek High School won second place, and Noah Westfall of Cherry Creek High School placed third in Region One. Other schools with participants from Region One included Front Range Christian School, Lakewood High School and Green Mountain High School.

In Region Two, Tim Johnson of Cheyenne Mountain High School won with a bridge weighing 26.9 grams (.94 ounces) that supported 133.27 kilograms (293.8 pounds), which is about 4,954 times its weight. Derek Hanley of Cheyenne Mountain High School placed second in Region Two, and Chase Wheeler of Cheyenne Mountain High School took third. Other participating schools included Coal Ridge High School, Buena Vista High School and Grand Junction High School.

Cherry Creek High School was the top scoring school in Region One, with three bridges that together held more than 6,697 times their collective weight. In Region Two, Cheyenne Mountain High School took home top honors, with their total efficiency coming in at 8,482 times the weight of their bridges.

Every year, students with an interest in science and engineering gather at the Bureau of Reclamation's hydraulic and materials laboratories to test out their homemade, small-scale bridges. These bridges, made only from basswood and common adhesive, are then tested to determine how much weight they can support. The winning models are determined by the structural efficiency ratio, which is the amount of weight the bridge can hold divided by the weight of the bridge. The winners have the highest ratios.

The state is split into two regions: northern (Region One) and southern (Region Two). The first and second place winners from each region will be invited to compete at the International Bridge Building Contest in Chicago, where prizes have included college scholarships. Winners from this year's competition in Denver were awarded $1,000 scholarships or other prizes.

The High School Bridge Building Competition aims to encourage participation in the fields of math and science, giving students an opportunity to try their hand at constructing model bridges and glimpse into the world of professional engineering. In addition to the competition, attendees can take tours through Reclamation's laboratories and facilities. Students are given the opportunity to view current research being conducted, how cement is made for dams and see a 5 million pound press crush a giant cement cylinder.

The contest is jointly sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado and the Professional Engineers of Colorado.

Results from the Competition:

Region One Individual Results

Region Two Individual Results

Region One Results by School

Region Two Results by School

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.