Students participate in STEM Design Challenge

Students from Pfaff and Richland recent­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in the STEM Design Challenge at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.

Zach Garger, a K‑12 Instructional Coach and the Quakertown Community School District’s Math and Science Content Specialist, said the event is a “unique expe­ri­ence” for ele­men­tary school stu­dents.

“It gives kids at the ele­men­tary lev­els an oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in STEM activ­i­ties,” Mr. Garger said of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math sub­jects that are part of the activ­i­ty. “They have the abil­i­ty to use their cre­ativ­i­ty, to use their imag­i­na­tion, and to solve real-world prob­lems.”

The chal­lenge for each team was to cre­ate a way to con­serve ener­gy in the future. For exam­ple, trans­form­ing ener­gy from one object to pow­er anoth­er or cre­at­ing a new type of ener­gy to pow­er a city. Their task: Create a mod­el of their ener­gy con­ser­va­tion idea out of K’Nex pieces, and be cre­ative.

The four-student teams could use up to 1,400 K’Nex pieces, and use at least one motor. But none of the pieces could be brought to the com­pe­ti­tion already joined, and they only had two hours to put their project togeth­er.

Each team was also required to write a jour­nal (a diary of the team’s jour­ney) and a blue­print for the com­pe­ti­tion, and be ready with a max­i­mum two-minute pre­sen­ta­tion about how their mod­el answered the chal­lenge.

“It was a lot of fun, and the kids did a great job devel­op­ing their projects,” said Mr. Garger, who was a judge at the event.

One Pfaff team, made up by Cole Limone, Alex Dakuginow, Brian Zeek and Eli Lowrie, designed a car and house that would work off of clean ener­gy from a wind­mill. They cre­at­ed a wheel that would spin from the wind and send the poten­tial ener­gy to their car to use as kinet­ic ener­gy.

Another Pfaff team of Sunny Draper, Cassidy Landis, Alexis Mosser, and Paige Longacre, devel­oped a pro­gram to stay fit with clean ener­gy. They designed an exer­cise room in a house. When peo­ple ride on the bike and oth­er equip­ment it pow­ers a wheel that gen­er­ates ener­gy to the house for elec­tric­i­ty. The con­cept focused on stay­ing healthy and cre­at­ing clean ener­gy all in one.

The teach­ers who helped the stu­dents with their projects are Peach Draper and Adam Smith from Pfaff and Stephanie Traumuller from Richland. They were with stu­dents dur­ing the school day, recess peri­od and after school.

The Richland Rockets team of Alex Day, Luka Duric, James Wehrheim, Malakai Jones and Gavin Rodgers con­struct­ed motion-based play­ground equip­ment, such as swings, mer­ry go round, zipline, see­saws and more, to gen­er­ate ener­gy that is stored and used as a source of pow­er through­out the com­mu­ni­ty. In doing so, there will be less pol­lu­tion and more sav­ings on elec­tric bills.

The Richland Bluebirds team of Nathan Steinberg, Caiden Bratton, Misha Meer and Emily Albright cre­at­ed an energy-conserving play­ground involv­ing pres­sure plates and an ener­gy stor­age hub to offer a source of pow­er to schools/communities. Through con­struc­tive play, ener­gy will be stored and used to reduce pol­lu­tion and ulti­mate­ly live in a health­i­er world. The Bluebirds were rec­og­nized for their out­stand­ing team­work.

“They’re the real heroes here,” Mr. Garger said of the teach­ers. “They held piz­za par­ties for the kids and real­ly went the extra mile,” he said. “They went above and beyond the call of duty to give kids this unique experience.”