Students participate in STEM Design Challenge

Teams from Pfaff and Richland competed in the event at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.
Posted on 03/30/2020
Pfaff teachers Peach Draper and Adam Smith with their students at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit's STEM Design ChallengeBy Gary Weckselblatt

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.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.
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