Bridge kids use their noodles

The fun and excitement of the 32nd annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest was palpable at Okanagan College Friday, as 186 Valley students competed for trophies and cash prizes of up to $1,500.

Seventeen pasta engineers from up and down the Okanagan made it to the final road of the competition, showing off their spaghetti building talent in the heavyweight division.

As the weaker bridges crumbled, it came down to three friends, Lumby students, who built the best bridges of them all.

Grade 7 student Adrian Schartner placed first with his bridge weighing only 982.6 grams supporting a whopping 275.6 kilograms before spectacularly collapsing in front of cheering friends, peers, teachers and parents.

His bridge was the only one to break the 200-kilo threshold.

His classmate and friend Brendan Mattenley placed second with his bridge withstanding 196.68 kg of pressure, and in third was defending champion James Dessert at 171.83 kg.

Taking almost eight weeks of patience, imagination and hard work, the three friends collaborated on an engineering design that featured an impressive arch made of bucatini pasta and spaghetti spokes. Each then made individual modifications to their bridge to encourage a little friendly competition.

“We knew we wanted curved bridges, those always do well in the competition,” says 12-year-old Schartner, who is home-schooled. “For my bridge, I created a heavier arch by using four strands of barilla. While it’s a lighter pasta, having more of it made it stronger.”

Schartner takes home the $1,500 prize money.

“This is my first year participating. I’m pretty excited because I came into the competition hoping to place third,” he adds.

With nothing more than pasta and glue, students from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos participated in demonstration and competition categories.

The world record of 443.58 kg was established in Kelowna in 2009 by a team from Hungary, and continues to be undefeated.

“It was amazing to see such talent in our youth and future professionals,” says Phil Ashman, the day’s emcee and associate dean of science, technology and health at Okanagan College. “These students are determined. Many of them returning year after year, improving on their technique and structure.”

Heavyweight results:

  • First – Adrian Schartner, Grade 7, home-schooled, Lumby
    • Bridge weighed: 982.6 g
    • Bridge held: 275.6 kg
  • Second – Brendan Mattenley, Grade 10 Charles Bloom Secondary, Lumby
    • Bridge weighed: 989.7 g
    • Bridge held: 196.7 kg
  • Third – James Dessert, Grade 9 Charles bloom Secondary, Lumby
    • Bridge weighed: 909.9 g
    • Bridge held: 171.8 kg


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