Registration Open for Annual Popsicle Stick Bridge Building Competition

A popsicle stick bridge buckles under pressure of a machine at the Vermont State University bridge building competition.

Vermont State University will welcome middle school and high school students to the Randolph campus for the 10th annual Popsicle Stick Bridge Building Competition on March 14 and 28. 

Using only Popsicle sticks, Elmer’s wood glue, toothpicks, and dental floss, teams of students will build their bridges according to competition design specifications at their schools and then present them at the competition. The High School Competition will be held on Thursday, March 14, and the Middle School Competition will be held on Thursday, March 28. 

Through this competition, “students get a good dose of design and build experience and also presentation experience,” said Professor John Diebold, VTSU Engineering Technology department. “They can build a bridge any way they want as long as they only use the four materials and follow the competition design specifications.” 

On competition day, student groups present their bridges to engineers from VTrans who serve as the judges. VTrans is also a major donor for these events. The bridges are judged on aesthetics, originality of the design, the student presentation, and the predicted carrying load of the bridge. The bridges are then crushed and the structural efficiency is calculated. The competition record to date for a load carried before bridge failure is 7,500 pounds! 

The competition is a fantastic hands-on way to demonstrate the real-world application of STEM coursework in middle school and high school classes, and all middle school and high school teachers are encouraged to take part. The student energy at these events is contagious! 

Share the news: Registration for Bridge Building Competition is now open. See for more information and the link to the registration form.