From Harford County Public Schools:
Article submitted by Marc D. Hamilton, Instructional Facilitator, Hickory Elementary School
On Saturday, January 28, 2012, teams from Hickory Elementary won 1st and 2nd place in the 4th grade division of the annual Maryland Engineering Challenge. Sixteen teams from around the region competed in the competition, which was held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Fourth grade teacher Ms. Verna Hiser and her math students partnered with enrichment teacher Ms. Jessica Hoover to tackle the integrated thematic challenge inspired by the nation’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative. Student teams researched aerodynamics, experimented with construction principles and problem-solved flight characteristics in an attempt to build the perfect paper airplane.
“You got points for written reports, plane performance and the judges’ interview,” explained Josh Sellers, a member of one of the winning teams, the Flyers.
Added teammate Josh Zbozny, “We had to practice hard for the interviews and know our report inside and out. You had to be prepared for anything to prove you had actually written the report and done the research.”
The students took pre-tests in order to compact their math curriculum and free up time for the challenge. Elizabeth Wesdock shared how the engineering process of ‘ask… imagine… plan… create… improve…’ was the central process they followed to win.
“We had to make hypotheses, learn about angle of attack and keep track of our data,” explained Ben Sprague of team Time Travelers. Olivia Reynolds, a member of team Unstoppable, shared her favorite part of the project was Ms. Hiser wearing a giant bulls-eye and being a target for their practice flights.
All the students learned important ideas about team work. “You can’t fight in an assembly line,” they chuckled. Austin Carr, the discoverer of the winning design (still classified behind the anchor charts of the Squirrel Werks at Area 51) concluded, “You have to use paper airplanes for good, and never evil.” Though his team laughed that they tease their teachers how they vow to do the opposite.
Hickory Elementary wins 1st & 2nd place at the Maryland Engineering Challenge