MFISD STEAM Academy students build 2900 Bridge models for Kingsland



Nathan Hendrix/The Highlander
STEAM Academy student William Eppler prepares his group's presentation board for an ambitious cantilever bridge to replace the 2900 Bridge that washed away in October 2018.




By Nathan Hendrix
Staff Writer

When the RM 2900 Bridge in Kingsland washed away on Oct. 16, 2018, teachers at the Marble Falls STEAM Academy found inspiration for a real-world assignment that hit close to home.

Students at the academy are given nine-week projects encompassing all academic subjects to understand – and potentially solve – a greater problem or issue in the world. This approach is called “project-based learning.”

The PBLs stress authentic learning,” STEAM technology teacher Lindsey Todesco said. “When I saw the footage of the bridge collapsing, I thought this is as real-world as it gets.”

Upon its completion later this month, the new bridge, built by Capital Excavation for the Texas Department of Transportation, will be widened to 12-foot travel lanes with six-foot shoulders and a six-foot sidewalk. It will be a “perch” bridge, meaning the middle of the bridge will be higher – approximately five feet higher than its predecessor – than the ends.

After months of research, however, some of the students at the STEAM Academy disagree with TxDOT's decision on what type of bridge to build.

The student groups were given several choices of bridges and asked to compare them based on specified criteria. The students scored the bridges on affordability, difficulty of construction, stability and the fit with the “Kingsland vibe.”

They had to justify the bridge they selected,” Todesco said. “They couldn't just pick a suspension bridge because it looks cool. They needed to be able to explain why.”

After judging each bridge and making their selection, the students built scale models based on the actual dimensions of the new 2900 bridge and the topography of Kingsland.

One group of students – Eryn Beltran, Ainsleigh Briggs, Priscilla Monzon and Kylee Kinzey – chose a truss bridge for their project to build something different in Kingsland.

I feel like Kingsland is all about the water – like lakes and stuff,” Briggs said. “A truss bridge isn't too fancy, but it isn't too plain. It fits [Kingsland] perfectly.”

The students said truss bridges are “on the cheaper side” of bridges.

They wanted to build something unique. They painted their model bridge red for more eye-catching appeal.

The last reason for the truss bridge selection involved the durability of the bridge during a flood. . . .

For the rest of this story, pick up the Friday, May 3 issue of The Highlander, the newspaper of record for the Highland Lakes. To offer a comment or news tip, email


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