Popsicle Sticks:

In 1995, I flew a group of friends down to Dallas to visit another old friend who had moved away a few years earlier.  As the entire gang was "nerds in kind", we had to visit the science centers in the area.  We happened to stumble into the Ft. Worth Museum of Science while there was a contest going on.

The contest was about building structures out of popsicle sticks.  It featured two categories; towers and weight-bearing structures.  The idea was to build a structure at least 6 inches tall that could bear as much weight as possible.  After watching the competition for awhile, it started to get frustrating watching construct after construct fail with paltry loads often less than 20 pounds.  I decided it was time to demonstrate what nerd-power meant to the problem and signed up.

I built a simple lattice distributed grid system, when tested it held the maximum weight they had to test with. (150 pounds.)  It easily won, but not being satisfied, I wanted to demonstrate what it was capable of and decided to stand on it myself.  I weighed about 200 pounds at the time and it easily carried my weight.  A staffer there wanted a Polaroid, so I asked her to snap an extra one for me, this was that pic.

What this picture doesn't show is that the staff was very nervous at the idea of me standing on this.  Not only did they vigorously suggest that it was a bad idea, but just out of camera shot were the security folks.  I suppose they were nervous at the idea of potential liability issues.

I'm told that this still stands as the weight-bearing structures record at the FWMofS.


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All images & text 2003 Phil Case