Bridge Building

Domino Servite sent two teams to the Regional SAICE Model Bridge Building Competition held in Pietermaritzburg on 22 March. Stephan Botes, Louis Geldenhuys and Bonumasa Nkala’s team was the first runner up, winning themselves R100 each and R200 for the school. Our team, Cornelis Grobler, Gabriel Khwela and Mxolisi Mthembu won the overall prize and R100 each and R500 for the school. We qualified for the nationals held at St Albans College in Johannesburg.

The National SAICE Model Bridge Building Competition was held on 29 August and the day of competition started at 7am with breakfast. We were then lectured on the ‘general principles of bridge building’ and quizzed on famous bridges around the world. The clear span (minimum length) of the bridge was given and pocket calculators were immediately whipped out and memorized designs and dimensions were adjusted accordingly. The green light was given and we started with construction work. With only a six and a half hour time limit, we worked as fast and as accurately as possible reaching an adrenalin-filled frantic climax in the last minutes and managing to finish with just a few seconds to go.

Our models were to be tested that evening. After an eternity of speculation, could-haves and should-haves, the time of testing finally arrived. The bridge was given a score calculated by the mass the bridge carried and its aesthetic value. This total was divided by the bridge’s actual mass.

The first team’s bridge carried a weight of 40kg after which it broke. They achieved a score of 85. After 11 teams, it was our turn. Our bridge also carried a weight of 40kg. Our score was 84. There was a difference of 1 point in the aesthetic rating. Two teams later, though, St John’s College from Zimbabwe knocked us down to third position by winning the competition hands down. Their bridge carried 52,5kg and earned itself a score of 103.

With R1000 each in our pockets and another R1000 each, for our teacher and our school, who could complain, though?
Cornelis Grobler, Gabriel Khwela and Mxolisi Mthembu