Polk County Middle School continues to have the state’s best model bridge builders.
PCMs successfully defended its title Friday in the North Carolina Department of Transportation Model Bridge Building Competition, winning the 2023 championship in competition held in Raleigh.
It marks the fifth time since 2014 that a Polk Middle squad has won the state competition. This year’s event was held in Raleigh for the first time since 2019, with no competition in 2020-2021 and the 2022 event held virtually due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Polk Middle’s team incldues Ryan Blomeley, Emma Blomeley, Natalie Klimstra, Adriauna Twitty, Alexis Carroll, Jared Aguilera and Talon Martin. The team is coached by Polk Middle STEM teacher Leslie Rhinehart.
The competition includes four parts – a written report, a skit, a review of bridge plans and model bridge weight testing.
The latter stage is typically the centerpiece of the competition. DOT engineers attach an empty bucket to each bridge and slowly begin filling the bucket with sand until it breaks, with the weight of the sand then measured.
Polk Middle’s bridge held more than 32 pounds of sand, the most of any middle school or high school team at Friday’s competition.
West Pine Middle School in Moore County placed second, with First Flight Middle School of Kill Devil Hills taking third. Franklin Academy in Wake Forest won the high school division.
Since 2000, NCDOT – in partnership with Carolinas Associated General Contractors and the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina – has hosted the statewide Model Bridge Building Competition to encourage students to develop the math and science skills that are used in transportation, construction and engineering careers.