• March 21, 2019

    Eighth graders place first in STEM Design Challenge

    STEM Design Challenge A team of four eighth graders from Fort Couch Middle School placed first in the 6-8 grade division at the regional STEM Design Challenge on March 6, 2019, at Duquesne University. Matthew Earley, Phillip Markovitz, Quinton Miller and Evan Sarkett qualified to compete at the state-level competition on Friday, May 17 at Harrisburg University in Harrisburg, Pa.

    Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the STEM Design Challenge tasks teams of students in grades 4-8 with designing and building a structure using K’Nex that addresses a given challenge. Teams were required to use at least one motor and could not exceed 1,400 K’Nex pieces.

    “The STEM Design Challenge encourages students to apply STEM skills and use K’Nex building products to accomplish the given goal,” Jason O’Roark, gifted education teacher, said.

    “This year the students’ winning design is intended to help clean up the Great Pacific garbage patch.”

    Each team must create a blueprint and narrative about its structure. At competition, students must build their structure from their blueprints within a two-hour time period. Once completed, they present their design solution to a team of judges.

    Student teams compete within two grade level divisions, grades 4-5 and grades 6-8 and are judged on creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design and presentation. The top team in each division at each regional competition will advance to the state competition.

    STEM Design Challenge The 2018-2019 Challenge:

    Teams across Pennsylvania are being tasked with creating a machine that will move three objects at least six inches across a table. The “cranes” must pick up the object, move it at least six inches and set it back down. Your team can choose the objects that need to be moved. Please consider how environmentally friendly your machine is while presenting your project. Be Creative!

    In addition to the first place Fort Couch team, other Upper St. Clair students who participated in the STEM Design Challenge include eighth grader Alex Todd and seventh graders Leona Chen, Autumn Ma, Sydney Zottola, Irene Yap, Maxim-Levi Shevchenko and Arjun Suresh.