Area high schoolers Lead the Way at STEM challenge
The morning of Friday, April 13, groups of students from six high schools gathered in the Linton-Stockton Junior High Gym for the Project Lead the Way Engineering Challenge.
According to Brian Oliver, students are challenged to use STEM and problem-solving skills to solve a problem given to each three-person group within strict constraints, with only materials provided and a mere hour-and-a-half timeframe for design and build. They were also challenged to compete with the other schools--Linton-Stockton, North Daviess, WRV, Bloomfield, South Knox and Northview--as testing was done afterward to determine who best met their parameters and solved their problems.
“It’s a great way for them to get out and use the skills they’ve learned from their engineering and industrial art classes,” said Oliver.
For example, Northview juniors Nick Thompson and Trey Tucker and freshman Wade Walker were given the “paper drop” problem. They were tasked with making a paper plate drop as slowly as possible, and as closely as possible from a balcony in the gym to a target on the floor.
Juniors Tyler Paul, Camden Ringo and Collier Frederick of Northview was given “helping hands”--they had to design a product that would place red solo cups and half-full water bottles into a basket without touching the basket.
A team of two sisters from South Knox, freshman Emily Blair and junior Faith Blair were tasked with popping a balloon in 10-11 seconds using a foam board.
Juniors Ashtynn Powell, Noah Ricketts and sophomore Morgan Green from Linton-Stockton were challenged to build a towner from straws as high as possible while still remaining strong enough to hold up a tennis ball for at least 30 seconds.
Boston Scientific has been funding and supporting the Challenge for the last eight years, and supplied most of the judges for this year. There was also a judge representing NSWC Crane.
Tim Church, New Product Development Quality at Boston Scientific, said the organization is more than happy to support the event because the students competing could become the next greatest minds in medical technology, not just for their potential benefit but for our society as a whole.
“We have a strong desire to promote STEM progress, so we’re willing to invest so the students can get a more hands-on experience,” said Church. “It’s a fun way for these guys to get out and think on their feet.”
Church also said that the event “gets the students thinking about what they want to do in the future, or how they can apply these skills to their job.”