There will be carnage.
Beams will break.
Dreams will be shattered.
And out of the wreckage will emerge four champions whose popsicle stick bridges have load-bearing capabilities that go beyond beyond the forces of gravity.
It all happens on Saturday at Pine Centre Mall, the site of the 16th annual Ultimate Bridge Building Contest and Geo Rocks Event, sponsored by the Association of Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C.
For three years, event organizer Lee Peltz has witnessed the creative bridge-building projects of school-aged kids and adults. He never fails to go home entertained.
"This is shaping up to be our biggest one yet, we're hoping for over 100 entries," said Peltz. "Last year we had 82. Most of the people who enter are kids but we do have a fair number of adults. It's a lot of fun. The focus is for people to get the most out of a very strict set of guidelines."
Each bridge will be built with a maximum of 100 popsicle sticks, bonded with all-purpose white glue. The rules state each stick must be left whole and that each bridge must be wide enough to allow a Hot Wheels-type toy car to pass through. The bridge must span a gap of at least 50 centimetres, long enough to extend 50 cm at either end.
Construction paper or regular white bond paper is allowed on the bridge deck only. The car has to be able to roll across the deck.
Peltz is an engineer at McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd., but don't ask him to build a bridge.
"I'm a civil engineer, I do roads, not structures," quipped Peltz.
"You don't want it to be too long, because then you're wasting sticks, but if it's too short then it won't fit or it will fall off once we start loading it."
No popsicle bridge in the 15 previous years of the contest has been able to match the crushing force of the hydraulic ram that never fails to turn sticks to splinters. Last year's intermediate class champion won the overall title when the meter hit 460 pounds (208 kilograms) before the bridge broke. The all-time record for Prince George is 505 lbs (229 kg).
Competition will be grouped into five categories: primary (grades 1-3), intermediate (Grades 4-7), secondary (Grades 8-12), adult open and adult professional.
Creativity is encouraged. Peltz said the standout entry from last year was a bridge Cobalt Engineering built, which was wired with mini street lights. Some bridges were almost as tall as they were long, but they turned out to be among the strongest.
Entries will be accepted right up to registration period, one hour before the start of the competition at noon Saturday. Children involved in the contest must be accompanied by adults at all times. Entrants and spectators are being asked to bring non-perishable food items as a voluntary donation to the Salvation Army food bank.
"We have massive crowds," said Peltz. "The biggest complaint last year is people couldn't see over the crowds, so this year we're bringing in a screen and projector so people in the back can see."
For more details about contest rules, go to www.apeg.bc.ca/ci.