The challenge — build a bridge of paper and paper clips spanning 3 feet and at least 1 foot high at some point.
The problem — paper costs $1,000 per sheet, columns an additional $2,000 each plus the cost of paper to construct them and paper clips cost $100 each after the first 12.
This year the winning team “spent” $5,000.
That was just one of the exercises the 38 students from across the county enjoyed at Junior Project Leadership Thursday at Norwalk High School.
This is the eighth year for the program, which was started by Product Leadership of Huron County, a year-long leadership training program for adults.
Gary Englehart, who graduated from Project Leadership in 1997, led the students through the bridge-building project and reviewed it with them after they finished.
Englehart said the exercise was designed to make students work together in a group even if they had only met that morning.
Just to make things interesting, he threw some curves into the exercise.
After the groups had been working for a few minutes, he pulled a member out of each team and made them switch groups. He explained to the students later that he did that to give them some idea of what they would face in the work world.
“Things change and you have no control over them,” he said, stressing they had to be able to adapt to be successful.
He also told the students that the cheapest bridge he has seen in Junior Project Leadership was a $1,000 bridge built three years ago. One girl knew origami, the art of folding paper, and taught her teammates how to tear paper into small pieces and connect them.
Together the team build a three-foot arc that reached a height of one foot using only one sheet of paper. By working together and using her special skill, the constructed the least expensive bridge Englehart has seen.
The students, who met from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., also met with several leaders in the county from government, school, safety forces and businesses.
The goal of the one-day program is to teach leadership and team-building skills, such as trust and involvement for every team member.
Junior Project Leadership participants were Brittany Armstrong and Joe Consolo, Bellevue High School; Bethany Marcum and Tyler Gibson, EHOVE Career Center; Greg Hauler and Rebecca Schreiner, Monroeville High School; Sara Gerlak, Andrew Davis and Casey Wyckoff, New London High School; Adam Beat, Kelly Caldwell, Bethany Caprara, Jessica Dotson, Hannah Duncan, Kirsten Eberle, Andrew Enderle, Carrie Hinckley, Jeremy Mangold, Sean Martin, Jeremy Peterson, Audrey Ross, Whitney Roth, Sara Luc, Emily Schaechterle, Dakota Sims, Alaina Wilson, Norwalk High School; Storm Conney, Abby Frank, Joe Lucas, Ian Miller, Brianna Missler, Jared Missler, Alexandra Pressly, Adam Pugh, Jacob Rhoad and Brett Wiedemann, St. Paul High School; and Emily Krikke and Cody Stillion, South Central High School.