• May 7, 2024

    Eighth graders finish 2nd in PA STEM challenge

    STEM Design teamA team of Upper St. Clair eighth graders finished second among 394 middle school teams in the statewide STEM Design Challenge. The Fort Couch Middle School team includes Sam An, Felix Chen, John Whitman and Joey Wyse. The team is coached by Jason O'Roark, gifted and accelerated math teacher.

    Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, the STEM Design Challenge was held on Friday, May 3, 2024, in Harrisburg. This year’s challenge tasked students with creating an agricultural robot or other type of “high-tech farming” equipment to help Pennsylvania farmers.

    “Our second-place team created a robotic apple picker that also sorted the apples, checked for fungus, applied any necessary treatments, and composted bad apples, while being powered by advanced graphene aluminum batteries,” Mr. O’Roark said.

    Each year, in the fall, students are given a challenge.  They have until March/April to design a prototype using K’Nex in response to the challenge. Along with a prototype, the teams will need to create a blueprint, a design notebook and a presentation. At competition, teams must rebuild their structure from their blueprints, within a two-hour time period. Once completed, they present their design solution to a team of judges.

    Students are judged on creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design, and presentation.