RIU6 Hosts Regional Governor’s STEM Competition


Jess Walter, writer

This year’s competition, “Improving Pennsylvania through STEM”, featured teams of students from DuBois, Franklin, Redbank and Titusville School Districts.  Teams were challenged to research, present and design a device or project that is capable of making the quality of life better for citizens of Pennsylvania.

The competition includes three phases:  Prototype and Project Plan, STEM in Your Community and Working as a Team.  During Prototype and Project Plan teams research and identify a real world challenge facing Pennsylvanians. Using a stipend of $500, teams develop a prototype device that provides a practical solution to the problem.  Using only the materials they purchased, students create a single prototype and then demonstrate their creation to a panel of IU judges.  The team must clearly articulate their understanding of STEM principles, Pennsylvania’s STEM needs and the need to produce practical solutions to real world problems.  STEM in Your Community provides students with the opportunity to partner with a local STEM business. Teams were required to interview employers and employees in STEM fields to gain a general understanding of the STEM opportunities in their IU region.  Students present their findings and explain the practical application of their device/creation and how it will meet the needs of the individuals, communities, or the state.

Working as a Team challenges the teams to demonstrate their teamwork and collaboration to the judges.  Teams were given a box of materials and 30 minutes to design a device that would protect an egg being thrown at a target.  This exercise provided an opportunity to demonstrate to the judges the cohesive nature of the team and earn points for teamwork, ingenuity, positive attitudes, etc.

Team members from DuBois included Kameron Haines, Franki Henrichs, Nicholas Tomblin, Alexandra Feldbauer, and Jacob Sutter along with advisor Jennifer Keith.  Franklin included Amy Mook, William Robinson, Kiaran Rios, Trevor Wood, JC Teslovich and advisor Tim Heffernan.  Redbank included Andrew Adams, Adrion Orange, Ryan Moore, Scarlett Greenawalt, Eli Carlson and advisor Jill Boyles.  Titusville included Patrick Howard, Jacob Beightol, Sarah Jones, Allyn McDowell along with advisor Ted Banner.

The students interacted with their local community to learn about STEM related careers and the skills needed to be successful in those careers. Supported by their findings, students made a series of presentations at the competition and provided a hands-on demonstration of the practical applications of their device.

DuBois Area School District won first place in the competition and will proceed onto the state competition. They developed a system to harness energy from wasted ice to supplement air conditioners which would save costs for restaurants and other establishments that serve iced beverages.  Their product takes any waste ice that would normally be dumped down a drain and turns it into a resource to provide cheaper and more energy efficient cooling.

Franklin Area School District developed a product that increases accessibility to tables and/or desks for those in wheelchairs.  The table is designed to run on battery power to operate actuators that raise and lower the table surface.  This allows for a range of wheelchair heights to be able to maneuver under the table.  It also included an insert that could hold an iPad or a variety of manipulatives to assist in non-verbal communication and learning.

Titusville Area School District created a plastic gutter guard.  Their design can be easily installed on a gutter and are more cost effective than the traditional gutter covers.  With the easy installation, homeowners will save time as well as reducing the risk associated with cleaning out gutters regularly.

Redbank Valley School District recognized a problem regarding homelessness in Pennsylvania.  They developed a prototype of a mobilized showering facility that included two showers, and a restroom.  The space is designed to meet ADA regulations and each person would be given a small bag containing personal hygiene supplies.

Regional competitions are being held at intermediate units throughout the state during the month of February.  The state finals will take place on May 27, 2016 at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster.

The competition judges included: Clarion University professor, Dr. Bruce Smith; Lori Rodgers, Educational Technology Specialist at ARIN IU 28; RIU6 Board President, Julie Hartley; Nicole Butler, teacher in Grove City Area School District; and Brian Sekula of the EADS Group.

RIU6 partnered with Patty Anderson and Meggi Wilcox from Penn State Extension who facilitated break-out sessions for the students on Designing Projectile Launchers and controlling a drone through an iPad app; and Clarion University professor, Dr. Karen Spuck provided an introduction to the Scanning Electron Microscope.

The above press release was sent by the Riverview Intermediate Unit 6.