On Friday, March 4, two teams of Northwestern Elementary School fifth-graders will compete at the IU5’s STEM K’nex Design Challenge in Edinboro.
All NWE fifth-graders participated in a K’nex challenge competition in December at the school.
The two highest scoring teams were selected to move on to the regional competition this Friday.
The teams selected to move on were Sadra Duda, Alexandria Kuhn, Isabelle Giannamore and Anna Kaufer on team one; and Danny Vanicek, Laura Ordakowski, Logan Stagl and Caroline MacFarlane on team two.
Northwestern is one of 350 schools statewide that participate in the K’Nex Design Challenge.
“Most schools do it as part of an enrichment program,” fifth-grade teacher and K’Nex team adviser Greg Clapper said. “We are one of the few schools that actually do it schoolwide. And we were the state champs two years ago – our first year – with a non-enrichment team.”
All fifth-graders were grouped in teams of three or four and tasked with coming up with idea for an eco-friendly building. Students had to write an essay describing the project, create blueprints, manage a budget and inventory sheet and carry out a five-minute presentation.
“They are challenged to use as many K’nex pieces in as many was as they can and to push themselves to be creative,” Clapper said. “Through this, they’re learning to listen, express their ideas and collaborate with others.”
On Dec. 21, more than 65 fifth-grade grandparents ate breakfast with their grandchildren in the elementary school multipurpose room. They were then invited to watch the students’ presentations and give pointers.
“It’s really interesting what imagination they have, and it’s good to get them thinking that way,” said Jan Petrus, who’s granddaughter is team two’s Laura Ordakowski.
Team two’s creation in the December competition, a green hospital, included a solar panel that moved with the sun, wind energy, horizontally-moving elevators and a garden on the roof.
“Our green roof is an important part of our hospital,” team member Logan Stagl said. “It provides most of the food and some ingredients for medicine.”
Team member Caroline MacFarlane said the team chose to design a hospital because it’s not just a building, but it’s a building that actually helps people.
“Oh I love this. I love the way they explain it,” said grandmother Janet Casey, who came from Erie to see her grandson Conner Hudson’s presentation. “They’re so knowledgeable of things. That’s a good teacher for these kids.”
The students had two-weeks to come up their designs in December.
But the two teams competing at regionals March 4 will only have two-hours from the time they get their assignment to come up with their plan and build it.
Since January, students have been staying after school two nights per week to practice for the regional competition, which will include about 40 teams competing for first prize.
The first place team will move on to the state competition.
Good luck to the Northwestern team’s at tomorrow’s competition!
And check out some pics from grandparents’ visit: