Students encouraged to build a bridge

HIGH school students are encouraged to take part in this year's Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge, sponsored by Roads and Maritime Services.

Pacific Highway General Manager Bob Higgins said the RMS was keen to be involved in the annual event organised by Southern Cross University.

"The Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge involves more than 700 students and provides fun, practical and educational activities for students to learn more about the varied and practical applications of science and engineering," Mr Higgins said.

"A highlight of the four day Challenge is the bridge building competition where students must build a bridge using materials like balsa, pins, paddle pop sticks and tape.

"The bridges are then tested with dynamic loads and weights and points are awarded to bridges based on strength and capacity. Roads and Maritime will judge the bridge competition each day and share knowledge on bridge building.

"Locally as part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade about 40 bridges will be built."

Northern Region Manager Adam Cameron said across the state Roads and Maritime maintains more than 5000 bridges and major drainage structures.

"In Northern NSW we manage 1100 bridges, many of which were built more than a century ago," he said.

"For example we are about to start maintenance work on McFarlane Bridge over the Clarence River.

"Built in 1906 the bridge contains a moveable span which is operated by a counterweight system which allows tall boats to pass through. The bridge is still functional and demonstrates how engineering and science can shape a community.

"We are also preparing to build new bridges at Grafton, Tabulam and Sportsmans Creek.

"The Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge gives us a great opportunity to see what the engineers of the future can create."

The Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge will be held from June 2 to 5 at Southern Cross University's Lismore Campus. For more information about the event contact Amanda Simmons at

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