For 33 years, it’s been a tradition at Mooseheart for Curt Schlinkmann’s physics class members to participate in a bridge-breaking contest in early January. This year’s version of that contest took place Wednesday, Jan. 16 and senior Amanda Jones’ won when her bridge held 33.6 pounds of weight before it cracked.
Schlinkmann’s reign as the contest’s originator and overseer came to a close. Schlinkmann, who has taught at Mooseheart since 1973 and who inaugurated the bridge-breaking in 1987, will retire at the end of this school year.
“I think it’s been fun for the kids,” Schlinkmann said. “They put a lot of effort into building the bridges and there’s stress in the contest. When they come back, it’s fun for them to remember and we always end up talking about their bridges and the contest.”
Jones, a Mooseheart senior, said she chose to take physics because she saw previous contests as a spectator.
“The reason I did physics is that I wanted to break a bridge,” Jones said. “(Schlinkmann) has been a great teacher. He’s a very precious being. Most of our classes have been more like discussion than lectures and we really get into the material,” Jones said.
More than just a contest, the bridge-breaking allows Schlinkmann to teach students the physics behind bridge construction, and Jones used some of those principles when she built her bridge.
“I learned about compression and tension and how different truss bridges work under compression and tension. Each stick on my bridge alternated between compression and tension. I was hoping for the record (71 pounds), but I’m happy with 33,” Jones said.
In addition to teaching, 68-year old Schlinkmann was the school’s long-time varsity boys track coach and coached middle school football.