Trail students earn honorable mention at K’Nex Competition

First Posted: 5/7/2014

Lackawanna Trail students Madison Norman, Abby Wilson, Isabella Coleman and Anna Wohlgemuth received honorable mention at the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Design Challenge featuring K’Nex, held at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology on May 2.

To prepare for the state competition, the fifth-graders made changes to their regional-winning obstacle, in which they chose to make eight biomes, which were: freshwater, tundra, taiga, deciduous forest, rain forest, grassland, desert, and saltwater.

“They (the students) had to modify their obstacle so it would fit on a table because they had a specific area that they had to work in,” Fifth-grade teacher, Laurel Kinback, said.

Instead of making eight obstacle courses for eight biomes, the students fit all eight biomes into one obstacle course for their vehicle called the All-in-One 3600, which they made with K’nex pieces. They added little figurines to add details to the biomes, such as animals for the grassland and orbeez (absorbent beads) for the saltwater biome.

“What they (the girls) focused on was representing STEM and what it means,” Kinback said.

To represent science, the girls made the biome. For technology, they made an iPad slide show about how to take the vehicle apart. The All-in-One 3600 represented engineering. For mathematics, they measured each biome to make them fit into the cardboard obstacle course.

“This gave us a head start if any of us want to become inventors or anything for making new technology for the generations to come,” Norman said.

While at the state competition, the girls noticed differences from regional’s which was held at Johnson College on April 4. The state competition was bigger with 35 schools competing. The judging system was also different.

“They were groups of judges, but they didn’t all rotate (into another classroom) to see the cars,” Kinback said. “One group judged the one room and another group judged another room, and they just talked about it.”

The girls admitted to battling butterflies in their belliesduring the judging .

“It was very exciting,” Wohlgemuth said .

“I felt like we were going to win but then when we got called (by the judges) up there, my heart was racing,” Wilson said.

Kinback assured the girls that they should be proud of both winning first place in the regional’s and getting honorable mention in the states.

“I’m very proud of the time and effort they put in and how they work well together,” Kinback said.

Although they didn’t win, the girls enjoyed the experience of building something together.

“I think it was a really good experience, and again, usually people think that only boys can do it,” Coleman said.

The four girls said they would compete again when it becomes open to the sixth grade class, and Kinback would be willing to work with them again if given the opportunity.

“I feel like we’re all really good and close friends,” Norman said. “This competition, because we spent so much time together, it’s pulled us even closer.”

Kinback will attempt to get the students’ all-in-One 3600 and their obstacle displayed in the Harford Fair in August.

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