As weight was applied to the bridge of Maxwell Wiesenfeld ’23, his name climbed methodically up the leaderboard projected on a huge screen in the Lewis Family Auditorium. Wiesenfeld, the last competitor in the final round of Ransom Everglades’ annual bridge competition, surpassed student after student, 14 in all. By the time he landed at the top of the day’s rankings – his basswood-stick bridge bearing 56.0 pounds before finally shattering – his fellow students’ murmurs had grown to shouts, and absolutely no one in the auditorium was sitting.
Wiesenfeld’s 22.03-gram bridge achieved an efficiency of 1,206.6, giving him a dominant and dramatic victory in a March 15 competition that had been close before his bridge was tested on the Lewis Family Auditorium stage. Wiesenfeld also earned first place in the aesthetic competition, which meant his bridge was not only the day’s strongest, but also the prettiest, according to a vote of fellow students.
Finishing in second place in efficiency was Kathleen Stanton-Sharpless ’22, whose 18.15-gram bridge held 34.8 pounds before breaking, achieving an efficiency of 934.7. Max Wolfe ’23 earned third place, with a 19.96-gram bridge that held 36.4 pounds and achieved an efficiency of 886.3. In the aesthetic competition, Sofia Paraoulaki de Miranda '23 earned second place and Athena Tsialas ’24, third.
For his double title, Wiesenfeld claimed two trophies – both of which were designed and 3D-printed by STEM teacher Robert DuBard. The event marked the in-person return of a great tradition at Ransom Everglades; last year’s event took place virtually because of the pandemic.
The event began as always, with physics teacher Paul Natland ’02 riling up the upper school student body from the auditorium stage as fellow STEM teacher Luis Felipe prepared the finalist bridges for testing. Natland let RE students know that school founder Paul Ransom had, in fact, identified a fourth class of people – not just the desirable third class of do-gooders.
The fourth class of people, Natland said, make a lot of noise.
And then he launched into his annual, memorable, elongated call, “Let’s get ready to CRUUUMMMBLE!”
The competition was open to all students, and some 140 in architecture, physics, engineering, math or robotics courses submitted entries. Bridges were fashioned out of basswood sticks, and had to be no more than 25 grams in weight. Classroom testing narrowed the final field to 15 bridges.
Classic rock songs played during the raucous final round. “London Bridge is Falling Down” served as an interlude when each new bridge was loaded onto the testing stand. When all the bridges had been broken, the dust had settled and the screaming had quieted, the standings showed these results:
2022 Ransom Everglades Bridge Competition Final Round
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.