Students get creative in STEM Design Challenge

QCSD had several teams reach the semifinal round and one was voted Most Creative in the Bucks County STEM Design Challenge.
Posted on 04/01/2022
QE’s team of Nathaniel Storey, Darren Wexler, Colby Gerhart, and Dylan Treffeisen - named The Scientific Builders - captured the Most Creative prize with their Concretor.By Gary Weckselblatt

The Quakertown Community School District had several teams reach the semifinals of the Bucks County STEM Design Challenge, including a group from Quakertown Elementary School who were named “Most Creative” in the competition of more than 225 teams.

QE’s team of Nathaniel Storey, Darren Wexler, Colby Gerhart, and Dylan Treffeisen - named The Scientific Builders - captured the Most Creative prize with their Concretor, a vehicle that stores both concrete and asphalt on it. It's designed to easily fill in potholes with asphalt and fix sidewalk cracks with concrete. The vehicle also has a tool on the front to smooth over its work.

“We worked really hard at everything and it paid off,” Nathaniel said. “I was really excited when we won,” Darren added.

Ryan Wieand, chaperone for QE’s budding engineers, said “The kids worked really hard. I’m blown away to come home with three semifinalists. It’s a real accomplishment for them.”

To illustrate how the competition has grown to more than 200 teams, a year ago a group of Neidig Elementary School fifth-graders finished second among 47 teams.

The 2022 challenge asked students to improve the United States transportation system, including systems like air travel, vehicle travel, bicycling, etc. In what ways can they be improved to create a safer, healthier, and cleaner world? Or does your team have an idea for a new transportation system? Create a prototype that shows this improved, or new, transportation system.

Rules included having a team of two to four students working together on the project; Creating their prototype using recyclable materials and/or K’Nex; Creating and submitting a design notebook and a blueprint; Preparing a presentation of up to two minutes on their model and how they answered the challenge. Entries were judged on creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design, and presentation.

QE had two more semfinalists. Sci-Tech, made up of Ella Garofalo, Danielle Stack and Hayler Torres, created the Water Eliminator, a vehicle that sucks up water from the road as it drives, preventing potholes from ever forming. The water is filtered and can be reused for cooking, drinking, or gardening.

The Engineers, formed by Jaeden Leiva, Aaron Remick, Evan Hunnicutt, and Jimmy Codja, made The Solar Cycle, a solar-powered motorcycle designed to reduce air and noise pollution.

Other district schools developed semifinal winners as well. Trumbauersville’s Terrific Taco People of Sammi Williams, Lily Todorow, and Alyssa Friedman conducted research to determine that an overwhelming number of people are injured in car accidents when a vehicle runs through a red light. They created a system that prevents cars from entering an intersection without a green light, while still allowing emergency vehicles to travel, as needed. “The girls demonstrated excellent teamwork, perseverance, and presentation skills,” said Rachel Frost, their chaperone. “I am so proud of them.”

At Strayer, the team of Landon and Brecken developed the COWS Magnet Truck that can travel at top speeds of 200 mph when the magnets in the track are powering it. It has a built-in AI that can detect other vehicles and prevent accidents. The AI also decides which turns to take to get the car to the selected destination at top speeds and safety.

“We are so proud of all of our teams and teacher leaders,” said Dr. Erin Oleksa-Carter, QCSD’s Supervisor of Elementary Programs. “This effort is student-driven, and really gives them an opportunity to explore things and extend what they’re learning in the curriculum. I’m incredibly excited for our student teams to have this opportunity to participate and for the teachers to commit their time for students to have these opportunities.”

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 [email protected].
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