Bridge builders wanted

Craft stick challenge slated for 2015 Dungeness River Festival

Bridge Building Challenge

When: 10 a.m-4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26

Where: Railroad Bridge Park and Dungeness River Audubon Center, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road.

More info: Contact Brad Griffith, at 461-4686 and/or watch for challenge instructions.


Engineering creativity and ingenuity through craft stick bridge building is the challenge throughout the coming weeks.

Brad Griffith, owner of Impact Product Development and Marketing, is inviting young minds to participate in the challenge aimed at building bridges with craft sticks for display and discussion at the Dungeness River Festival on Saturday, Sept. 26.

“I want to support the concept of STEAM here locally and inspire and engage kids,” Griffith said.

STEAM, which combines science, technology, engineering, art and math, is the academic force behind Griffth’s interest to instill the art of creating with craft sticks.

“The idea is to get kids to look at their world differently and discover a sense of creativity while learning basic engineering skills,” he said.

The challenge

Children participating in the challenge have until Saturday, Sept. 26, to design and construct a bridge. But, to help get started, 6-inch by 24-inch plywood foundations are freely provided from Griffith or at the Dungeness River Audubon Center. After obtaining a foundation, all crafters are encouraged to use craft sticks, as well as materials, like rocks, string, naturally found sticks or household objects such as paperclips or toothpicks, for example.

Once complete, the bridges are to be evaluated and displayed at the Dungeness River Festival, where Griffith will have a booth with a variety of materials for impromptu craft stick bridge building as well.

“I think it’s a great exercise for children and time appropriate,” Powell Jones, Dungeness River Audubon Center executive director, said.

The trestle that once spanned the Dungeness River within Railroad Bridge Park was damaged during February flooding, but construction to replace the trestle with a modern, river- and fish-friendly pedestrian bridge is under way.

“I felt this challenge, in conjunction with the Dungeness River Festival, would be a great way and time to connect our local community and kids with the project to replace the trestle,” Griffith said.

The challenge also coincides with this year’s Dungeness River Festival theme centered on celebrating the 100th year of the Dungeness Railroad Bridge.

Unlike the standard popsicle stick bridge building challenges, where the strength of each bridge is tested by breaking them, Griffith hopes children will make something they can keep forever.

“Instead of ‘make it and break it,’ I want kids to ‘make it and take it,’” he said.

Creative creations

Griffith has helped sponsor and been involved with the annual popsicle stick bridge building competition in Seattle for about five years, though he’s been working with craft sticks engineering projects for seven years.

“I have to admit, I do have a lot of fun, too, when building these things,” Griffith said.

As a local inventor, Griffith trademarked a technique of working with craft sticks, such as tongue depressors or popsicle sticks, where he first soaks the sticks to make them moldable — a style he’s dubbed Craft Stick Bending.

Once soaked, the wood can be shaped into any object, creation or toy.

In an effort to engage children with this craft stick building and bend technique, Griffith is helping at the Carroll C. Kendall Boys & Girls Club throughout the week. Also at the club, Griffith plans to attend the Back to School Fair from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, to show examples of craft stick engineered bridges and provide opportunity for hands-on practice.

“For me, the most rewarding part is when a kid sees the value and unlimited possibilities there are by bending and molding wood,” Griffith said. “When I see a kid light up and get excited about something they’ve made – that’s the best.”