2014 Odyssey of the Mind Problem #4 “The Stackable Structure” Uses Balsa Wood & Glue

February 4, 2014 by Super Glue Corporation Leave a reply »
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Each year creative students, from elementary school through college, participate in Odyssey of the Mind programs around the world.  Aspiring engineering students often choose the Balsa Wood and Glue structure building, weight bearing problem.  This year, as in year’s past, the Balsa Wood & Glue problem is being sponsored by Nasa.  Here’s the problem synopsis:

Problem 4:  The Stackable Structure

Teams will design and build a structure made up of separate components stacked on top of one another.  The structure components will be made of only balsa wood and glue, and will be tested by balancing and supporting weights after they are stacked.  Teams will be scored for the number of components they use in their final structure.  Before they are stacked, the separate components will be integrated into an artistic representation of the Earth.  The team will include the stacking of the components, placement of the weights, and Earth into the theme of its performance.

You can see from the specific instructions that there are many problem-solving challenges involved with this particular structure building project.  One of the important decisions all teams will make is what glue they use to build their structure.  We recommend our ZAP CA glues (preferably medium viscosity although this is something teams should test on their own prior to building their competition-grade structure).  Here is an excellent video showing the best way to cut the balsa wood and apply the cyanoacrylate (CA) to the joints.  Note:  We love the tip of using the packing tape as a surface on which to apply the glue as the balsa wood and super glue can be lifted off of the packing tape with little or no sticking!  We also recommend using Zip Kicker as the accelerator for the ZAP CAs.

[Video Credit:  NC Science Olympiad:  How to Glue Balsa]

We encourage Odyssey of the Mind teams working on this challenge to share your stories with us as you progress through the local, state, national and international competitions.  Good luck to all!!  We support your willingness to take on these creative, problem-solving challenges in an effort to expand your thinking skills!!

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