STEM School Students Build with Popsicle Sticks

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COLUMBIA - Benton Elementary third graders tested their engineering skills Friday afternoon with Popsicle stick bridges they built over winter break.

Students designed and built the bridges themselves. They weighed the bridges down with sand-filled buckets until they snapped. Classmates went head to head to see who had the strongest bridge. A couple of teachers also participated in the contest. One teacher built a bridge that held 78 pounds of sand without breaking. Benton third grader, Quinn Bryan, built a bridge that held 77 pounds.

"I [liked] building the popsicle bridge because it's a part of science and it's a lot of fun," Quinn said.

Benton is the first elementary school in Columbia to focus on S.T.E.M education. The acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The curriculum aims to teach students to think critically, solve complex problems and advance science and technology professions. Benton officially became a S.T.E.M school at the beginning of the school year in August 2011.

According to Benton Elementary teacher, John Gerhart, students with an interest in science can voluntarily transfer into Benton.