That moment Saturday before a small wooden bridge broke was a little awkward and almost unexpected.

But that was the point of the 23rd annual High School Bridge Building Competition at Penn State York: for students to use science and engineering skills to build the strongest-possible bridge.

And the only way to determine the winner was to place each entry in a contraption that stressed the bridge to its breaking point. Every entry eventually broke; the winner was the bridge that held up the longest.

Twenty-nine students entered in the competition, which was hosted by the Lincoln Chapter Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers. Although it was open to all York-Adams high school students, 28 of the competitors were from Susquehannock High School alone (the 29th was from the York County School of Technology).

According to the guidelines, the students could use only modeling glue and wooden sticks for their bridges, which had to weigh less than 30 grams.

New Freedom resident Nancy Laven was there to watch her son Matthew compete. 

"I think it's interesting to see the variety of designs, and it's encouraging to see students applying their engineering skills," she said. 

The top three winners from the competition were Susquehannock students Adam Beamesderfer, Ethan Daviau and Conor Custer. 

For more information on the Lincoln Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, please visit

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