Jeremy – Thursday of Week 2… Bridge Testing

What an incredible hour of recreational time today!!! The culmination of this year’s engineering projects: a bridge construction competition. 13 out of 15 groups made it into the final round of testing which is very impressive. That means that their bridges, made only of

  • four pieces of paper,
  • 40 index cards,
  • tape,
  • glue,
  • two name-cards the length of paper,
  • 8 pipe-cleaners,
  • some yarn and four tiny fuzzy balls

These thirteen bridges were had passed the first round of weight: three 8 fl oz bottles of hand sanitizer.  One by one, group members were called to the stage for each round as the testing began. One group after another was passing the stage’s first big test: a huge bottle of hand wipes, and many passed the second as well: two hand sanitizers on top of the bottle of hand wipes.

The tension in the air was palpable with each test as group members cringed and held hands over their eyes and turned away in trepidation, kneeled in prayer, and rejoiced with jumping, yelling and high fives when amazingly their paper and glue withstood yet another test. Eventually the number of bridges left began to dwindle. Onlookers began cheering for the bridges from their colors (red, green, blue). And amazingly after three intense rounds we had a bridge from each group. I had to confer with Shaina on what to add for a final round of testing. This was sure to separate the remaining bridges: on top of everything else, adding a first aid kit.

The cheering began to grow in intensity as the groups took the stage and I realized there was a highly organized chant going on. “Jacque a dit …! Jacque a dit …! Jacque a dit …!” They were all chanting. It was rhythmical. Between chanting they were clapping, taunting, boasting, dancing their expressions of confidence and joy to the rhythm.  I recognized the phrase from earlier games of the Haitian version of “Simon says”. … But what was Jacque saying? (They had actually started doing it about twenty minutes into the competition, but I was so focused that I didn’t realize it for a while and it wasn’t until before the final round that I found out that they were saying Simon says you perdi “lose” or gane “win” spontaneously based on their support or lack thereof for the bridge being tested.). Jacque a dit perdit or Jacques a dit gane.  The chanting was at a fever pitch and the blue group failed both final tests but both the red and green groups passed the first then failed the second. There were further tests performed confirming that they were both winners, it was a tie. A full forty five minutes of kids dancing and chanting for their engineering projects to succeed. Miss Shaina took to the front and asked what the seven “Principles of Engineering” were and they all yelled them back to us in beautiful accents “brainstorm”, “sketch”, “plan”, “build”, “test”, “discuss”, “try again!”

What a day!!!  Honestly, not even the video does justice to the level of noise, the intensity and the fun that was had there today.

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