Feb. 20, 2019 -- Four Heights Middle School students showed they were risk-takers recently when they signed up to compete in the at the Great Lakes Science Center. They and their Project Lead The Way teachers Amy Statler and Dianna Neal had no idea what to expect. It turns out the 7th graders were competing against 18 youth teams from area middle and high schools. And another dozen corporate teams made up of professionals and college students.
And it turns out that the HMS team earned first place ... in both the youth category and overall, beating out teams from Parker Hannifin, Sherwin Williams and Cleveland State University.
Arthur Schmiedl, Caleb Green, Marcus Holland and Ruby Tugeau were the four 7th graders enrolled in PLTW’s “Design and Modeling” course who stepped up to the challenge. They spent Saturday, February 9 at the GLSC, where they received a box of materials and instructions to build “a vehicle that could defy gravity” by successfully stopping at the top of a hilly track. They had two and a half hours to design, build, test and revise their creation using everyday items such as toilet paper tubes, straws, duct tape, Lego wheels and small weights.
Ms. Statler said she was nervous by how slowly her students started out. “Some teams were already testing their designs and our kids only had two wheels on their car!” But they worked carefully and creatively, with lots of problem-solving and trial and error, and were finally ready for their first test. Their car stopped perfectly at the top of the first hill, earning 50 out of 60 total points. Their design was consistent because they earned the same score in the next two heats, plus an additional 25 for the bonus round where their vehicle had to fly off a ski jump.
Their total of 175 points was nearly double the second place youth team, who earned 90. The first place corporate team, Sherwin Williams, earned 160 points - rendering Heights Middle School as the overall winner.
“It was pretty amazing,” said Ms. Statler. “They just came up with a really fantastic design,” said her fellow PLTW teacher Ms. Neal.
The students were all glad that they volunteered to participate and would happily do it again. Arthur’s parents Adaora and Eric were impressed with their son’s willingness to take risks, a key attribute of an International Baccalaureate student. “His interests usually tend to be more literature and music focused,” said his mom. It seems he might want to add engineering and design that list.