Spaghetti BridgeJuly 6, 2017 — After a month of study on various aspects of engineering design, physics and teamwork, 40 aspiring engineers from Hueneme High School will test their skills by building a bridge out of dry spaghetti, then seeing how much weight it will bear.

The sixth annual Hueneme High School Academy of Engineering and Design Bridge Breaking and Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, July 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI). Dinner will be served before the bridge-breaking competition.

Led by Professor of Physics Greg Wood, Ph.D., the spaghetti bridge competition is the culmination of four weeks of University-level engineering instruction for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students who will be entering their senior year at Hueneme High School in the fall.

All the students are members of the Hueneme High School Academy of Engineering and Design, a magnet program for STEM students.

“We want to teach them engineering and design principles from an actual college professor, so they know what it’s like to attend college,” Wood said. “The spaghetti bridges use all of the physics principles learned throughout class.”

Participants in this year’s competition will have their spaghetti bridges on display so guests can get a closer look at the students’ ingenuity with nothing but glue, dry spaghetti and the laws of physics.

Then, each bridge is fitted with a hook holding a tray. The audience cheers and counts “one, two, three…!” and so on, cheering for each filled water bottle Wood places on the suspended tray to see how many the bridge can support before it breaks in a shower of pasta and applause.

Summer Bridge ProgramFrom June 19 to July 14, the students were on campus for half a day, learning about engineering using everyday items such as masking tape, coffee filters, ping pong balls, paper, and other items. They designed a “mouse” trap for a ping pong ball, then used thread, masking tape, paper and coffee filters to build something that would land an egg safely from a drop off of a two-story building.

“We learn lots of physics and math and that builds up to engineering,” Wood said. “Mostly it’s all in the lab, all hands-on, with students doing the math and then checking their calculations with experiments.”

Students were taught by Wood, two teachers from Hueneme High and two graduate student assistants. Wood believes the spaghetti bridge event is a great way to wrap up the session and give the family a chance to see what the students have learned with an entertaining contest.

“We want the entire family to come,” Wood said. “We want the parents to understand this is a good place to send their kids and we’re here to help them.”

The summer bridge program is a joint effort of Hueneme High School, CSUCI and the Ventura County P-20 Council with support from Bank of America and Umpqua Bank.