Linguini bridge contest winners shatter opponents
The 13th Annual Linguini Bridge Contest proved a smashing success for Andrew Hakala and Jack Roberts. Their pasta creation held 1,335 pounds, shattering the records of its competitors before shattering itself.
Video courtesy of Anne Lemenager, MVRHS
Jack and Andrew said they spent about eight hours building their bridge, which weighed in at three-quarters of a pound. Although named "The Pretty Flower," the two freshmen's creation might be more appropriately renamed "The Steel Magnolia" after beating out 62 others in the competition.
Mathematics and technology teacher Ken DeBettencourt founded the Linguini Bridge Contest in 1997 and continues to organize and run it. "I believe that if I can make the students' mathematical experience in high school fun, it can be a positive learning experience that they can keep with them for the rest of their lives," he said.
The competition was open to all students, who could enter individually or in pairs. Each bridge builder received three pages of guidelines in early February.
The rules also state that, "Each team may get help from teachers, parents, carpenters, architects, engineers, Italian chefs, priests, rabbis, etc."
Andrew and Jack credited Geoff Gibson with their bridge design. Mr. Gibson is a veteran pasta project parent whose daughter, Loren, and son, Tyler, both MVRHS graduates, both won previous competitions with his guidance.
Bridges were due last Friday. Mr. DeBettencourt said this year's 75 entries were the most ever. Of those, 62 bridges qualified after he weighed and tested them over the weekend.
Students who turn in bridges constructed according to the rules receive test score credits, as well as extra points based on the amount of weight held and their bridge's beauty.
Attractively designed bridges by Kent Leonard and Andrew Han, and Sam Oslyn and Hannah Moore were spared destruction. Caitlyn Bruni built the lightest bridge, which weighed less than one-tenth of a pound and held 50 pounds before collapsing.
Elimination rounds using 200 pounds of weight or less took place on small tables, two teams at a time. Circular 25-pound barbell weights were balanced on a lightweight block of wood placed on top of the bridges in rounds one through three.
Although it was the kind of rainy, humid day that might make even Prince's "enriched macaroni product" go limp, many of the mighty miniatures held their starch.
Nine bridges qualified for the final round, where they were set on the floor on a protective wooden platform and heavier 45-pound weights used.
"The Alamo Bridge," built by tenth-graders Mike Montanile and Jesse Thomas, proved a worthy second place opponent, supporting 1,230 pounds before it let go.
Special thanks from The Times to Anne Lemenager, MVRHS, health and physical education department head, for providing a specially edited contest video to accompany this article.