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Posted 4/28/2014

Release no. 14-017

By Stephen Satkowski
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers-Far East District  Public Affairs

OSAN, Korea - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District and Seoul American Middle School partnered for the second consecutive year to hold a toothpick bridge design competition.

Joined by Osan American Middle School students, the competition aims to encourage progress in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

“What I find with my students in the STEM field is that they don’t know where to start and they get stuck in the middle and can’t see the end,” said Sheva Wilkins, applied technology teacher at Seoul American Middle School. “I’m helping them along the way.

Wilkins, who organized the competition, said projects such as these can at first seem daunting, but they help the students gain awareness of STEM related fields.

“And once they get it they are so excited. At first they complain about it, but when they are bringing those bridges in they are excited,” said Wilkins. “So I think that it really does spur in them that they can do it.”

For the students it was a fun experience and an exciting way to learn about the engineering field.

“I’ve done it three years in a row and I definitely want to keep doing it because every time I get better and better,” said Maggie Johnson, a seventh grade student at Osan American Middle School. “It’s really interesting to see how far you can go with toothpicks and glue.”

“I like building things and working with others so I enjoyed this project,” said Kim Min-sung, also an Osan American Middle School seventh-grader.

District engineers judged the students on best architectural design, strongest bridge, most efficient and best overall design.

Kim Min-sung, Kara Ohler, Austin Barberree, and Jeremy Sumpter won this year’s competition for best overall design.

Osan American Middle School teacher Thomas Carlin said he was grateful his students had the option to compete this year and felt the competition was educational for everyone.

 “If you don’t win anything at least it’s a learning experience. That’s what we’re here for,” said Carlin.