Second Annual

Balsa Bridge Middle School Competition

Building model bridges promotes the study and application of physics and engineering and helps students develop “hands-on” skills. Participating students get to experience what it is to be an engineer, designing structures to a set of specifications and then see them perform their function.

Register your team of up to six students and build the lightest bridge capable of supporting the heaviest load. Teams design, build and load-test a 36” scaled bridge using balsa wood and wood glue. Load testing occurs at MU College of Engineering.

Grades: 6-8
Date: Postponed until further notice due to COVID-19.
Location: 102 Naka Hall
Sponsored by: University of Missouri College of Engineering and MU Extension
Registration: Applications are currently closed.
Application Deadline: October 15, 2019


Student awards will be given to the team with the first, second and third highest score. Awards will also be given to top ranking team’s teacher/mentor.

October 15, 2019: Deadline for mentor to submit application and letter of intent.

November 15, 2019: Submit computer design and interim report.

November 22, 2019: Kits will be mailed to schools within one week of receiving interim report

April 10, 2020: Submit final report.

April 18, 2020: Bridge testing and competition on the Mizzou campus.


102 Naka Hall

  • 8 am Doors Open for check-in; bridges will be evaluated by judges upon check-in
  • 8 – 10 am Breakfast (bagels, pastries, coffee and juice)
  • 8:30 – 10 am Testing Block 1
  • 10 – 11 am Testing Block 2
  • 11 am – Noon Testing Block 3
  • 12:30 – 2 pm Testing Block 4
  • 11 am – 1 pm Lunch at The Mark (515 S 5th St)
  • 2 – 3 pm Awards Presentation

Meet Mizzou Day is hosting additional events around campus in which you can participate.

Students interested in competing in the Balsa Bridge Middle School Competition should:

  • Find a teacher or counselor to act as a mentor for the duration of the project.
  • Gather a team of up to 6 students.
  • Write a paragraph explaining your interest in the competition.

Mentors interested in bringing a team(s) to competition should:

  • Gather a team of up to 6 students.
  • Consult with school officials to discuss the possibility of getting school credit.
  • Determine and original team name.
  • Complete the online application for the team.
  • Write a paragraph explaining your team’s interest in the competition.
  • Obtain parental permission as needed.


Balsa Bridge Online Application

Applications deadline is October 15, 2019.

Objective: Design, Build, and Load-Test a 36-inch Scaled Bridge using Balsa and Wood Glue.

Approach: Teams made up of up to 6 students will design, construct, and test a 36-inch long bridge using only balsa and glue provided by the College of Engineering. As a minimum, the bridge must support the first truck loading of 15 pounds to pass over the full length of the bridge.

For a successful project, teams should divide the responsibilities between team members. As a suggestion, each team should have:

  1. Team Name
  2. Project Manager: keeps all team members on track, coordinates all team discussions during design phase and construction phase, delegates responsibilities and gives a helping hand as needed, ensures the project is progressing on schedule, leads the writing of the report(s), etc.
  3. Design Engineer: Interprets the rules, leads the team while selecting alternative designs using the computer software, helps the team select the best design alternative, manages the drawing of the layout of bridge design, helps in construction, etc.
  4. Construction Engineer: leads the construction efforts, communicates with designer and project manager to select best feasible design, build various bridge components as suggested by the selected layout/design, etc.
  5. Other Engineers: all team members should actively be involved in the interpretation of the rules, the design using the computer software, design selection process, the writing of the report(s), and the construction.

On the bridge testing day, before the bridge testing is performed, all team members are required to give a short introduction summarizing their role in this project and their experience.

Get the Complete Rules

Bridge Building Tips Video Series

Bridge Building Details Video Series

Balsa Bridge Design Fundamentals

Learn more about designing and building your Balsa Bridge. Get started with Design Guidelines here. Watch the video for more information.

West Point Bridge Designer Software
Bridge design software is available to all participants. The software can be downloaded here:
Watch the video to learn more about using the software.

Student Awards

First Place

Each student on the winning team receives:

  • $400 cash award
  • Mizzou Engineering Summer Camp Scholarship ($500 value)
  • Trophy
  • Engineering apparel

Second Place

Each student on the second-place team receives:

  • $150 cash award
  • Mizzou Engineering Summer Camp Scholarship ($500 value)
  • Trophy
  • Engineering apparel

Third Place

 Each student on the third-place team receives:

  • $50 cash award
  • Trophy
  • Engineering apparel


Mentor Awards

First Place:

  • $300 classroom stipend

Second Place:

  • $200 classroom stipend

Third Place:

  • $100 classroom stipend

2019 Balsa Bridge Team Ratings

Team Name

Structural Rating (x2)

Design Rating

Report Rating

Overall Rating

Brave Corps 100.0 88 97 385.0
The North Middle School 84.9 97 100 366.8
Gentry Jaguar Boys 88.1 95 95 366.2
Chuckaholics 91.1 90 84 356.1
Tenacious Chihuahas 76.7 95 96 344.5
Vikings 73.3 97 98 341.6
Pirates 84.7 80 88 337.3
Bremer’s Braniacs 54.2 87 100 295.3
The Architects 64.3 81 85 294.6
Not Fast, Just Furious 52.0 96 94 294.0
3 Bridgadeers 56.3 91 89 292.6
Bulldog Industrial Creators 52.0 89.5 96 289.5
Euclid’s Elements 48.0 94 92 282.0
HEZL 66.6 64 82 279.3
Knights of Roundtable 40.4 87 96 263.8
Quest Queens 39.2 87 94 259.4
Gentry Jaguar Girls 38.9 86 91 254.7
Slightly Above Average 33.5 90 95 252.1
Battle Cats 21.5 87 96 226.0
Master Builders 22.8 84 92 221.5
Max Possible 100 (x2) 100 100 400.0

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