LeTourneau opens eighth graders' eyes to engineering

LeTourneau opens eighth graders' eyes to engineering
The spaghetti bridge challenge. Photo by Jamey Boyum, KLTV.

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - In honor of National Engineer Week, LeTourneau University offered a taste of engineering to area eighth graders. And it was an exercise to get their wheels turning, maybe towards a future career in engineering or other STEM careers.

They had five classes to attend, and several were hands-on, but all the students were pretty pumped to build a bridge out of spaghetti noodles and tape in the class hosted by LeTourneau Senior Danny Meyer.

"You have twenty minutes to do this," Meyer told the class.

Longview's Elijah Marshall, Abigail Freeman and Jordan Menard figured they'd make the longest bridge out of the six groups.

"So what's your strategy here?" I asked Elijah.

"I don't know. I'm just going by Jordan," Elijah replied.

"I'm just trying to get the base of it stable, that way it won't fall down," Jordan said.

"Yeah, you're really a control freak, like really bad," Abigail said to Jordan.

"Well, I mean, as far as what he's doing here what do you think?" I asked Abigail.

"I think it's working. I mean it's doing what it's supposed to do so there's no use messing up what's working," Abigail stated.

"You need more tape?" She asked Jordan.

"Hey, just let me see the tape itself. Don't rip it, just let me see it," Jordan told her.

Well he, or they, had a ladder kind of structure going on. Others had different ideas, like a flat pad of noodles that looked like a road, or a monstrous looking thing.

"Designs are unlimited so just so long as it doesn't touch the floor and it's self supporting; so free-standing," Meyers explained.

Noodles do not the best bridge make. It was pretty challenging.

"So this is like Jordan's ladder," I said to Jordan.

"Sort of," he smiled.

It was crazy tempting to give suggestions, but I'm not in eighth grade; not for a couple years anyway. Suddenly:

"Three, two, one! Alright, time for the measures," Meyer yelled.

The tape-skettying stopped, and measurements were taken. Jordan's ladder looked pretty good, but was no match for the monstrosity nearby which measured:

"Forty-eight inches," Meyers revealed.

"Are you looking forward to working with Jordan in the future?" I asked Abigail.

"Not really," she laughed.

"Are you having spaghetti tonight?" I asked Danny Meyer.

"No, I'm sick of it," he smiled.

Eventually they both may have to cross that bridge when they come to it.

150 students from eight area schools participated in five introductory engineering classes. And, out of the 30 or so spaghetti bridges built, the record for the day went to the monstrosity at 48 inches.

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