Engineering Competition in Steam Team

The 2016-17 Different Directions STEAM Team had a great year examining Motion.

Our students harnessed the power of air and learned about lift and airfoils. They played with spinning motion and centripetal force. They found out about how their eyes react to spinning & motion & light and how mnemonics could capture memories in new ways. They explored ways of using engineering to find solutions for socially relevant challenges, especially those that focused on environmental concerns, and ways in which they could help the animals that bring them so much joy. They ended the term delving into chain reactions, using slope, runs, drops, levers and the collision of rapidly spinning spheres and they learned to look at the moments that did not work out as they had planned, not as taunts, but as happy guidance towards their ambitions.

 One subject that came up repeatedly was the conservation of freshwater supply and midway through the year they all participated in an international student competition run by the FLUOR Corporation which was open to K-12 students, that focused on just that.

 Using the idea of the 2,000 year-old Banaue Rice terraces in The Philippines, the competition architects asked students to design and build an elevated structure using limited household materials that would employ gravity to move water with numbered resources from level to level, simulating the irrigation system of the real rice terraces.

The FLUOR Competition positioned students to compete with classrooms around the world using a point system that awarded points based the movement of water carrying beads down successive levels while deducting points based on how much of the offered materials were used in the working model.

 STEAM Teamers were divided into four teams and each created different and successful models that moved beads swiftly from shelf to shelf. I saw that they relished the opportunity to compete with their unknown peers from other countries, as they enthusiastically sought to out-innovate, all while practicing the important lessons of teamwork and  good-sportsmanship which is the heart of STEAM Team.

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