Playing with Pasta

EVART — Colin Knapp may never again look at a bowl of spaghetti the same way. Knapp, a member of Evart High School’s “Pasta PACCK” Spaghetti Bridge Building team, and his four teammates are preparing to compete at Ferris State University’s 14th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Competition this weekend. The noodle showdown starts Friday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. and concludes Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Rankin Dome, located at 1201 S. State St. in Big Rapids. Nineteen teams from across the state are competing in the two-day, four-part competition. To compete, teams build a scaled replica of a bridge, write a report on the history of the structure, prepare an oral presentation and practice to build an on-site replica of a bridge for the load-bearing portion of the competition. The PACCK decided to replicate a 24-inch version of the Falkirk Wheel bridge in Scotland for the competition. “This bridge is not well-known and we feel that it gives us an edge,” Knapp said. “We decided to step out of the box and build something different.” The pre-built bridge can be made out of any noodles and glue, but for the load-bearing replica teams can only use two pounds of spaghetti noodles and three lasagna noodles to hold as much weight as possible. team member, Chris Routheaux said the group has a better plan in place this year. “Last year we seemed to not manage our time well and our bridge could not sustain 25 pounds. This year we are going to have better time management and hopefully, come out more successful,” Routheaux said. The top five teams in each individual portion of the competition will receive $50 to $300 in cash. Four $2,000 scholarships to Ferris are given to overall first place, four $1,000 Ferris scholarships are given to second place and four $500 Ferris scholarships are given to the overall third place winners. “This event is not just about building, there are many different skills we look for,” said Beth Reynolds, professor at Ferris’ College of Arts and Sciences. “We look at how well they write, orally present and their attention to detail. If teams can work together and do all four things well, they have a shot at winning.” Last year the Pasta PACCK received $100 in scholarship toward future materials for the group. Chester Essner is optimistic about their chances this year. “I think we are going to do well,” Essner said. “We have worked really hard for a lot of months.” For more information on the competition, contact Beth Reynolds at (231) 591-3077 or