Karey Thatcher with the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority speaks with a student during the bridge building contest at Marlborough Public School, February 28 2018. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

Kids Imagine New Border Crossing

What would the new Gordie Howe International Bridge look like if it was designed by children?

An official with the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority found out when he was asked to judge a bridge building contest at Marlborough Public School this week.

One of the entries in a bridge building contest at Marlborough Public School in Windsor, February 28 2018. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

One of the entries in a bridge building contest at Marlborough Public School in Windsor, February 28 2018. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

“I’m judging them on aesthetics, but also design, form and function too,” says Karey Thatcher, the authority’s architectural project manager.

“We told the kids that the bridge has to cover a span from 30 cm to 45 cm. But, other than that, the design was up to them. The materials were up to them. They were allowed to be as creative as they wanted to be,” says STEM Teacher Shaun Campbell, who conceived the contest.

The students did not disappoint. Many of the designs incorporated bold colours, wide lanes, even bedazzling. A total of 25 model bridges were submitted by students in grades two to eight, all for the chance to win a pizza party for their class.

One of the entries in a bridge building contest at Marlborough Public School in Windsor, February 28 2018. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

One of the entries in a bridge building contest at Marlborough Public School in Windsor, February 28 2018. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

Campbell says the students put a lot of work into their submissions, coming in during their lunch breaks and after school. He believes the students came away with a better understanding of design and function.

Triangles are prominently featured in a design by Ohjenai Chantler and Mehwich Rizvi.

“It’s the strongest shape,” says Chantler explaining the decision. “We tried to do the square first, but we realized it was not the best choice.”

Zac Termos in grade three won the pizza party with a stayed-cable design fashioned out of popsicle sticks and tongue depressors. He says he put a lot of research into his project.

“I thought of it in my imagination,” he says. “I looked it up Google, and I saw a picture. There were different ones, but I made this.”

Thatcher says the design was very sophisticated for an eight-year-old and showed a lot of ingenuity.

The winning entry in a bridge design contest at Marlborough Public School in Windsor, February 28 2018. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

The winning entry in a bridge design contest at Marlborough Public School in Windsor, February 28 2018. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)

He jokes the authority should consider some of the ideas presented by the children.

“I don’t think we’ll be using a lot of popsicle sticks on the bridge,” he laughs. “Bedazzles, maybe.”

The authority is expected to choose one of the three consortiums that will build the new border crossing in June with construction starting soon after. The bridge is scheduled to open to traffic in 2022.

Next month, Campbell says the school will soon host another contest with balloon-powered cars to celebrate Windsor’s automotive history.