• April 2, 2020

    7th graders place first in STEM Design Challenge

    STEM team A team of four seventh graders from Fort Couch Middle School placed first in the 6-8 grade division at the regional STEM Design Challenge on March 3, 2020, at Duquesne University. Ryan Buonomo, Max Biedrzycki, Ben Seewald and Ryan Popp qualified to compete at the state-level competition.

    The state competition, which was set for Friday, May 8 at Harrisburg University in Harrisburg, was canceled due to COVID-19.

    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 collaborate as they apply the Engineering design process to accomplish a given goal,” Jason O’Roark, gifted education teacher, said. “This year the students’ winning design is intended to help generate clean energy using the motion of the waves.”

    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.

    In addition to designing and building a structure using K’Nex, teams must also create a blueprint and narrative about their structure.  At competition, the teams of students must build their structure from their blueprints, within a 2-hour time period. Once completed, they present their design solution to a team of judges. First place teams in the local competition are invited to attend a state championship in Harrisburg.

    The 2019-2020 Challenge: 

    By conserving energy, we can reduce air and water pollution, lower our electric bill and create a healthier planet. Your team’s challenge is to create a way of conserving energy in the future. For example, transforming energy from one object to power another or creating a new type of energy to power a city. Create a model of your energy conservation idea out of K’Nex pieces. Be creative!

    In addition to the first place Fort Couch team, other Upper St. Clair students who participated in the STEM Design Challenge include seventh graders Ishaan Sharma, Rohan Mehta, Krishna Sathya Vagheeswar, Ryan Hyatt, Tyler McClintock-Comeaux, Colin Rump, and Carlee Santel.