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Polk Middle’s ‘Barbie Builders’ bring home another state championship

Three proved a magic number Friday for Polk County Middle School’s model bridge building team.

Members of Polk Middle's 2024 state championship team included, from left, Adriauna Twitty, Alexis Carroll, Jasper Clark, Jared Aguilera, Jacon Jenne and Emma Blomeley.

Three proved a magic number Friday for Polk County Middle School’s model bridge building team.

Polk Middle won its third consecutive North Carolina Department of Transportation Model Bridge Building Competition, topping the field in the annual event in Raleigh.

The state title is the sixth for Polk Middle’s program since 2014. The competition includes a paper written by the students, an original skit performed on stage and, of course, load testing to see how much weight the 30-gram balsa bridge could support before breaking.

Eighth grader Emma Blomeley designed the bridge, also the third straight year her design has been the state’s best.

“The ‘Barbie Builders’ did great on stage, memorizing their parts and acting out the skit based on the Barbie movie,” said Polk Middle STEM teacher Leslie Rhinehart, who coaches the team. “We were biting our nails when the bridges were being broken by the engineers.

“Fortunately Emma’s design held the most, again, and we were able to bring home our third consecutive state win. They all worked so hard all year and I am so proud of them.”

Polk Middle’s winning bridge awaits testing during Friday’s competition

Joining Blomeley on the team in Raleigh were Jared Aguilera (7th grade), Jacob Jenne (7th grade), Adriauna Twitty (7th grade), Alexis Carroll (7th grade) and Jasper Clark (6th grade).

Following the competition, the students explored the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and then headed home.

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.

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