Welcome to Somerville Mathematics

Welcome to Somerville Mathematics, a blog devoted to exciting mathematical things happening in Somerville MA. I am the founder of The Somerville Mathematics Fund, www.Somervillemathematicsfund.org
The Math Fund was chartered to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville. I hope you will check out my TEDxSomerville talk on the Somerville Math Fund,
I find that there are many other interesting things happening mathematically in Somerville and I hope on this blog to have others share what they are doing. So please contact me at mathfund@gmail.com if you would like to contribute an article.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Scrapheap Showdown 2017: Get Over It!

On October 29, 30 high school students on 10 teams gathered in “The Cage” in Cousens Gym at Tufts University to compete in the 13th annual Scrapheap Showdown.  Instead of the usual interesting “junk” in the center of the room when the students walked in, there were piles of paper along with large cones of string.  The students were given their challenge: to design and build a four-foot-span paper bridge. The teams worked intensely, designing, building, testing, reinforcing, and adjusting their bridges.

Time was called after 3 hours.  Now was the time for the competition.  

Each of the ten bridges employed differences in design from suspension to trestles and combinations of other features.    The students' bridges competed against each other, tested for their ability to withstand “traffic” — a remote-controlled car driven across. 

Their bridges’ centers were measured for height above the table with points given for each inch above the table height up to 6 inches. The third challenge involved supporting maximum weight spread over the span of the bridge with minimal deflection.  A bamboo skewer was placed in the middle of the bridge.  The change height of the bridge could be measured by the displacement machine built by Richard Graf for a previous Scrapheap Showdown. 
Richard Graf with his machine to measure deflection to 1/16"

The bridges were going to be measured to two inches of deflection from adding weighs spread across the span of the bridge road bead.  The winning bridge was able to support more than 108 pounds with less than two inches of deflection in the center of the roadbed. 
108 lbs and counting!
Wall tiles, metal weights, and barbells
and still not deflecting more than 1"!

The 2nd place team was able to support 82 pounds.

The team with the highest overall score, was Crimson Quackateers  (Owen Chiu, Daniel Correa, Jeffery Zou). 
The Crimson Quackateers with their winning bridge.

 The second place team was the Honeybees (Tristan Brown-Vazquez, Max Nadeau, Nikolas Protopapas).  
The Honeybees with their bridge.

Third place was the Shrimps (Kenia Arbaiza, Kristina Gurung and Tayara Romero).  

The Shrimps with their bridge.

The Fourth place team was Team Take Dubs Part 2. (Qijin Chau, Gabe Kafka-Gibbons, Samuel Saron).  
Team Take Dubs, part 2 with their bridge.

Fifth place was Striking Panthers (Desi Feldman, Robert Lavey).
The Striking Panthers with their bridge.

The teams could choose their prize in the order they finished.    
The prizes donated were:  three $100 gift cards (donated by Anne Button), four Red Sox tickets (donated by Sam Voolich), three $50 RedBones BBQ gift cards, 3 $50 Amazon gift cards (donated by Jay Landers & Jasper Lawson) and a combination of Museum passes (4 Science Museum including 4 to the Omni Theater, 2 Museum of Fine Arts and 2 Children’s Museum, donated by Vinny Tajeda & Maggie Rabidou). 

There was a prize for aesthetics sponsored by Jay Landers, it was a hard choice to choose the “best looking” but the winners were the Striking Panthers.

The other teams participating were Lady Highlanders (YuYing Chen, Priscila Ponce, Leslie Nava Sanchez),
Lady Highlanders with their bridge

Dumbledore's Army (Harmanpreet Kaur, Nasreen Kaur, Willow Klein), 
Dumbledore's Army with their bridge.

Team Bulldogs (Cole LaFee, John Minghetti, Dillion Tivnan), 
Team Bulldogs with their bridge.

 Team Team (Aaron Diener, Sam Diener, Dennis Gill), 
Team Team with their bridge.

The X-Man (Zachary Dion, Luca Duclos-Orsello, Kevin Pleitez).
The X-Men with their bridge.
This event was for both fundraising and an intellectual challenge--all funds raised go towards a Somerville Mathematics Fund scholarship for an outstanding Somerville mathematics student.  All competitors and volunteers went home with Scrapheap Showdown teeshirts donated by Gerald and Debra Bickoff of Commercial Cleaning Service.  

Designers & refiners of the challenge were: Anne Button, Chase Duclos-Orsello, Zachary Faubion, Adam Foster, Monica Fernandes, Miriam Gates, Richard Graf, Jay Landers, Zbigniew Nitecki, Erica Voolich, and Michael Voolich.  

Stanhope Framers donated the foam core.  Fleming Printing Co. donated the “roadbeds” made from chipboard, Michael Morgan and Patricia Murphey-Sheehy, teachers at Somerville High School, recruited student teams.  Amy Weiss designed the T-shirts and Yongkang Yu designed the poster advertising the event at the high school.  

Sponsors of the event included Winter Hill Bank, RedBones BBQ, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, Commercial Cleaning Service, Jay & Jasper, Susan Weiss, and our most wonderful host, Tufts University.  Various members of the Board worked on all aspects of organizing the event and worked to make it a success along with community volunteers Tony Johnson and Clarissa Westney.

The Somerville Mathematics Fund was chartered in 2000 to celebrate and encourage mathematics achievement in Somerville.  In January, they will be looking for teacher grant applications; and in April, they will be looking for scholarship applications.   For more information or to volunteer or to make a donation, call 617-666-0666, e-mail mathfund@gmail.com, or go to www.somervillemathematicsfund.org.

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