LBJ Express hosts bridge building competition for middle school students
This June, the team at LBJ Express was asked to host a day of a STEM summer camp entitled Destination Discovery. The three-day camp was organized by the Carrollton Farmers Branch Education Foundation, CFB Giving, and took place at Barbara Bush Middle School.
Bridge building at a STEM Summer Camp in Texas
On this day, the LBJ Express (LBJ) and North Tarrant Express (NTE) teams worked together and created a bridge building competition for the students, The LBJ Express Bridge Design Challenge. There were a total of 19 volunteers from both companies, including 10 engineers. The camp had a morning and afternoon session with 120 middle school students in attendance.
To begin the day, LBJ and NTE engineers taught the students about bridges and their necessity in daily transportation. The engineers showed them pictures of bridges and explained 3 types of stresses that can be applied to bridge building. Following the presentation, students were divided into groups of six and sent to different rooms to start working on their bridge designs. Each team was appointed an engineer and volunteer to supervise and assist if the students had any questions.
The objective of the STEM summer camp activity was to build the strongest bridge possible within a time limit of 90 minutes. In addition, the bridge needed to span at least 3 feet, students were only able to use the K’nex pieces provided and each bridge had to hold at least one ream of paper to qualify in the competition. As the bridge building progressed, the engineers advised the students to test their bridges for weak spots and make the appropriate modifications in order to support the maximum weight.
The judges were delighted to see that every bridge entry met the minimum criteria to take part in the competition. Teams were recognized in the following categories: The Strongest Bridge, The Most Creative Bridge and The Most Cost Effective Bridge. Overall, The LBJ Express Bridge Design Challenge met the goals for the STEM activity, providing each student with new skills in the areas of teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, bridge building and public speaking.
About the LBJ Express
The $2.6 billion LBJ Express project, which began in 2011 and was completed in September 2015, included the reconstruction of expanded frontage lanes and main lanes, as well as the addition of bypass lanes and TEXpress managed lanes along IH 635 between Luna Road and Greenville Avenue, and IH 35E between Loop 12 and Valley View Lane in Dallas. This expansive reconstruction project is successfully alleviating traffic congestion along one of the busiest highway corridors in the state, with as many as 250,000 cars traveling the stretch daily.