Bridge Crushing Contest at Makerspace Leads to Competition in February

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A "Bridge Crushing" Contest for teams of students in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 was recently introduced at a workshop at the "Makespace" located in the Metuchen Library on Route 27. The "Makerspace" program is supported by a $50,000 gift from the Lemelson Foundation to build a place for young and old to learn, invent, make and express themselves creatively through the use of emerging technologies not normally available to the general public. The student teams are invited to explore the world of engineering, science, math and technology by challenging them to design a 100.0 gram truss bridge made of plastic straws, cardboard and glue. 

At a competition on February 7th, at the Metuchen Library, a bridge crushing machine will determine which bridge can support the most weight before collapsing. The bridge will be designed, tested and innovated in virtual reality using the "West Point Bridge Designer" software which is free and downloadable from the Internet. The Deadline for registering for this competition is January 7, 2015, and is limited to twenty teams of up to three student members with an adult mentor.


The "Makespace" workshop is being carved out of an area in the Library for allowing the public access to the tools and up-to-date technologies for expressing their ideas as working inventions. Besides offering the conventional tools and materials for constructing inventions, there will be eight laptop computers for designing and researching, including a 3d printer, conventional hand tools, and much more is being considered. Newly appointed director of the Metuchen Library, Susanna Chan, announced that the grand opening for the "Maker Space" workshop will be on March 21 of 2015. In the meantime, community volunteers will continue to advertise and provide STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) type program's in the Library's community room. STEM is a national movement to encourage students through "hands-on/minds-on" fun experiences to prepare them for success and leadership roles in our worldwide-evolving technological environment.


Recent workshops representing the kind of future events planned by the Library include: "Literacy through Technology" which teaches elementary age students how to create a story using story boarding software that create comic books. Each frame uses digital photos and text balloons of LEGO characters interacting with each other in well-developed story lines with proper sequencing and with a beginning, middle and an end. The Library has also had an introduction to "Shutterfly for Beginners of all Ages", and a program for inventing, constructing and innovating 19th Century technologies such as stereoscopes, phonographs, telegraphs, moon phase time calculators, light wave communicators, and electromagnetic headphones. All invented from a "Pile of Junk" found around a typical household in the way MacGyver used to do on television. 


"I like this program", according to one of the volunteers, retired teacher Ted Latham, "this STEM based program seems to be adhering to and combining modern technologies with the age old wisdom for learning, Tell me I forget, show me I remember, involve me I understand".


If you would like to subscribe to the online "Metuchen Library Makerspace Newsletter", or register a team for the bridge competition, please do so by emailing your name and email address to Be sure to state whether you are subscribing to the "Makerspace Newsletter" and/or registering for the competition.

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