Monday, May 9, 2016

Tech Challenge 2016 Recap 1

I've been an advisor to a tech challenge team for four years, and this was the most difficult challenge to date. 

The 2016 challenge: Build a glider to deliver supplies to a remote location!
This year, you tell the story! What is your glider carrying? Where are you going? Why?

New award for 2016: Top Tech Challenge story! 
Who: Students in Grades 4-12
What: A team engineering design challenge
When: Event Days are Saturday, April 23 (Grades 4-6) and Sunday, April 24 (Grades 9-12 and Grades 7-8)
Why: To develop creative solutions to a real-world problem

A glider, which weighs less than a pound, must carry payloads (ping pong balls), gain 6 inches of lift in 6 feet, make a turn around a storm column, and deliver payloads to a "remote" location 26 feet away.

Not only did teams have to build their gliders, but they must incorporate a launcher, which will have a trigger mechanism. Then it's got to gain lift and turn. What a challenge for a fourth-grade team.

Yes, since last year, the Tech Challenge has been opened to fourth graders, and it was a welcome change for those kids who were eager to form their own teams after watching their older sibling's teams compete for years.

A 4th-grade team was talking with the judges at a test trial at the Tech Museum. You can clearly see the launch platform, the mountains, and the storm column that the glider must clear before landing on the target (26 feet away) successfully.

The glider must be launched at 0 degrees launch angle and have a trigger.
I think elementary students, as young as Kindergarten students, can get a lot out of this program, but I think the fourth-grade cut-off is a logical one, especially with the Engineering Design Journal requirement.

I didn't have the time to blog about this great program while it was in progress. Next year, I'm going to put forth extra effort to blog about this AWESOME program in more timely manner.