Middle School Students Build the Future

By: Aniela Gesing

Eisenhower sixth graders, Alyssa Wismar, Nathan Hanson, and Rhiannon Cook recently competed in the K’Nex competition at the Northwest Tri County Intermediate Unit in Edinboro, PA. Students from surrounding Erie areas competed, with thirteen teams in total entering the competition and each team working on their task over the period of a month in preparation for the event.

Alyssa Wismar is a second year participant, while Nathan Hanson and Rhiannon Cook are first year participants. Together, they worked collaboratively to meet the requirements of the competition.  The team’s challenge was to build a crane-like device that would pick up three objects and move them at least six inches. The team was required to use a motor and had to make it environmentally friendly. The goal was to create a machine that could theoretically be used as a tool to aid in picking up and moving debris after disasters.

The teams worked on the projects during the month prior to the competition and then brought all of their materials to the competition.  The challenge was that to show up to the competition with their projects completely disassembled and then teams were allowed two hours to complete the reassembly of their object. The final step was to present their project to the judges and explain the device’s function and usefulness.  A range of five to eight judges assessed the following elements of the teams’ projects: blueprints, design, journal logs (recorded entry of the team’s building process), cost sheets, teamwork, functionality, and overall presentation.

The Eisenhower team placed second overall all out of thirteen teams and was nominated “Best Blueprint” of the competition. Alyssa Wismar described her big win, “It was a unique challenge and a fun learning experience.” The competition also inspired her to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by saying, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” The Squire would like to congratulate these talented students on their victory!

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