Teams from Patrick Henry and Albert Harris elementary schools participated in two competitions last weekend – King’s Dominion Engineering Day and Roller Coaster Challenge on April 22 and the State KidWind competition held at Virginia State University on April 23.
Students participating in the roller coaster challenge were tasked to build two roller coasters. They were scored based on aesthetics and how they recaptured energy in the coaster. Students also received a workbook to complete with various activities around the park, like looking for three-dimensional shapes and how they are used.
Students from both schools earned awards in the Roller Coaster Challenge. PHES’ two teams placed first and second and AHES’ team placed third at the elementary level. There were a total of 30 entries.
“I am beyond proud of the accomplishments these students achieved during the first year of Kid Wind in Martinsville City Public Schools,” said PHES Principal Cameron Cooper. “I am looking forward to many more accomplishments to be achieved in the future!”
“The opportunity for the students to research and learn about force and motion, then apply their learning at Kings Dominion was awesome,” said PHES STEM Teacher Liz Lynch. “It was so exciting to show the students what real world engineering looks like and for them to network with industry professionals.”
“Our students have put their scientific knowledge and engineering know how to excellent use as they prepared for these competitions,” said AHES STEM Teacher Laurie Witt. “Team members have exhibited the 5Cs of the Virginia Graduate including critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity and citizenship.”
When students arrived at the KidWind competition, they took a knowledge quiz as a group. The quiz encompassed 10 big ideas that each had about fifteen questions. The quiz accounted for 15 percent of the overall score. After that, teams brought their devices in front of a panel of three industry professionals to discuss their design process and demonstrate how it works.
Teams were assigned to build and create a high functioning wind turbine. Students were given a gearbox and pieces for the wind turbine; however, it was up to the students to design the blades and determine the size of the turbine. After presenting to the panel, students took their turbine into a room full of fans to test the effectiveness of their design.
AHES students earned the Good Sportsmanship Award for their turbine design.
Teams were tasked with creating a solar powered model which must be connected to solar panels and do something. Teams were scored based on how much energy load they had on their solar panels, design, complexity, and aesthetics.
AHES students earned the People’s Choice Award for their solar design.
“I am excited that students from AHES were allowed to compete in the Roller Coaster Challenge and State Kid Win Competition,” said AHES Principal Renee Brown. “Our students and coaches dedicated lots of time and energy in preparing for these events. I am very proud of our students’ accomplishments in achieving their awards. Way to go!”
The State KidWind competition is the first competition in which students have participated, as this is a new program of which students can take advantage.
“We had a wonderful experience with KidWind at Virginia State University and PHES students had an amazing rookie year,” said Lynch. “During the Kid Wind competition judges remarked that the Martinsville teams were articulate, creative, and had lots of energy. The students constructed their own wind turbine, designed blades, and improved their design to score higher. Another team designed a three-level solar treehouse with lights, a fan, and an elevator. The students cannot wait to apply their learning next year when they compete again. In fact, a fifth grade asked if we could incorporate renewable energy into summer STEM programs.”
“What an amazing group of students, coaches, teachers, and parents who helped to ensure our students were prepared for both competitions,” said MCPS STEM Coordinator Jill Collins. “We would also like to thank KidWind and the Virginia Museum of Natural History for housing a wind tunnel that will be used for testing their structures in the future.”
“MCPS is very proud if the accomplishments of our engineering students,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Zeb Talley. “We will continue to involve our students in “hands-on” activities and competitions that will lead to intellectual growth and achievement. Our division will make every attempt to ensure that all students have this valuable learning opportunity.”