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The wooden toothpick bridge...

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The wooden toothpick bridge...

Postby DaQ » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:28 pm

I'm taking Physics this year and our new lab (lab teacher's cool...no HW as well :-B ) is the "Wooden Toothpick Bridge."

Pretty much we need to construct a bridge that can withstand a brick for 5 seconds. The lightest bridge that can hold the brick wins.

Our requirement when buiding the bridge is that the base cannot be over 5 cm high and 30 cm long (the base). After that, the top part can be as high as you want.

This is the point where I need the help of my Cafe buddies for ideas on the best strategy. We just got the lab today, so we didn't really do anythjing yet. Our class was introduced to "tress bridges" and "arch bridges." Tress bridges seem to be much more common for this assignment, but an arch bridge may be a little stronger.

Any advice that you guys who are future engineers, former physic studs or anyone else can give me? If anyone has ever heard of this or knows a lot about it, I can get a little more in-depth on planning it and such.

I have one plan that could work, but the bridge will be heavier - for each supporting diagonal beam (on each side), I'll use 2 or 4 toothpicks instead of just one (that everyone else will do). This would add stength and stability - if one toothpick cracks, three more are there to support the beam.
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Postby curious_george_43545 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:31 pm

I actually had to do this once for my Shop or whatever the class was called before. Except mine sucked, so I'm not sure you want my advice.
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Postby RugbyD » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:46 pm

i saw videos after we did our in high school and the best one looked more or less like a triangle.
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Postby slomo007 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:48 pm

I did a variation of this project in HS. I did very well with mine. Agreed with rugby that you have to have nothing but triangles up and down the sides.
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Postby curious_george_43545 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:56 pm

http://www.bridgebuilder-game.com/

Download the game and you can practice making bridges. It'll help a lot. I'll try to get a screenshot if I make a nice brige on a high level.
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Postby TheRock » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:12 pm

By bridge, are you spanning a gap? How big is it? Do you have to accomodate something passing through it?

Yes, a truss is your best bet. If you aren't constrained to a specific shape, use a 3D design, more a pyramid than a triangle. Using multiple toothpicks for diagonals isn't a bad idea, but toothpicks breaking won't be your problem. They will pull apart. Do some research into tension and compression. Your elements under tension are your weak points. That's where your bridge will start pulling apart, so build really strong joints.
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Postby TheRock » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:27 pm

curious_george_43545 wrote:http://www.bridgebuilder-game.com/

Download the game and you can practice making bridges. It'll help a lot. I'll try to get a screenshot if I make a nice brige on a high level.


Wow, that is cool. ;-D
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Postby mweir145 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:30 pm

I did something like this back in my freshman year, my group used a computer program to design and test our bridge. It was difficult to find the right design that would support the most weight but be extremely light as well. However, eventually we made a good one. There's probably something like that on the internet you could use.

We then built the bridge as designed on the computer, and placed weight (in the form of books, bricks etc..) on the structure to subject it to "real" testing. From what I remember, our bridge didn't do as well in the evaluation as it did in the tests. :-/ My advice probably wouldn't be the best for this kind of assignment, as I'm not exactly planning to head into engineering.
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Postby curious_george_43545 » Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:46 pm

Here's a simple bridge I made that. You can see which parts were under the most stress and would end up causing a collaspe if more weight was added. Green means it's fine and red and orange are under stress obviously.

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Postby knapplc » Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:12 am

You need to build this.

Luckily, he gives you instructions. ;-D
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