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‘Technology Challenge’ will draw middle and high school future engineers to Edinboro University on Saturday

18th Annual Event


Imagine a mouse trap-powered car, a CO2-fueled dragster, or a wind turbine generating energy from a simple box fan. These three engineering challenges were put to regional middle and high school students who will complete during an annual technology contest at Edinboro University on Saturday.

Students in grades seven through 12 in Erie, Crawford and Warren counties will participate in the 18th Annual Technology Challenge hosted by Edinboro University’s Continuing Education Department and sponsored by the Technology Education Association of North Western Pennsylvania and the Erie Engineering Society Council.

According to Bill Moats, a technology education teacher in the General McLane School District and program coordinator, up to 80 participants, including technology teachers and students, will participate in Saturday’s program. Ten volunteers with engineering and technology expertise will judge.

Moats said the events begin at 9 a.m. in the newly renovated and expanded Cooper Science Center. Lunch will be provided at Van Houten Dining Hall, during which Dr. Richard Lloyd, chair of Edinboro’s Physics and Technology Department, will speak on University’s new Associate of Applied Science in Applied Technology degree program. Following lunch, a brief awards ceremony will be held about 1 p.m. in Van Houten South.

Students competing in the Technology Challenge will be given a set of rubrics that include grade-level activity projects, craftsmanship and creativity, drawing requirements and oral and written documentation reports. The judges will grade in each of the four areas.

This year, the 7th-and 8th-grade activity involved building a mouse trap-powered car that can travel 10 feet and stop exactly at a taped marker. If the car travels too far, or not far enough, points are deducted. The 9th-and 10th-grade assignment was for students to design and manufacture a CO2-fueled vehicle that can travel a set distance in the shortest time, similar to a drag race. The 11th-and 12th-grade challenge was for students to design and manufacture a wind turbine that generates maximum power in a set time period from wind provided from a simple box fan.

All students will also be involved in spontaneous competitions that will be announced the morning of the Challenge. Students will have an hour to solve the problems on site with only the materials provided (much like the Apollo 13 Challenge, during which participants have only an hour to design a square filter that fits into a round hole with only the materials aboard the spacecraft).

“The competition involves the students in basic engineering skills, including technology, math and science,” Moats said.

At the end of the day, prizes will be awarded to the top individual point-getters and schools.

(Note to news directors and assigning editors: Great photo and interview opportunities involving the region’s best and brightest middle and high school students. The competition will be conducted in Cooper’s corridors and Rooms 131, 170 and 171. Availability will also be during lunch at Van Houten Dining Hall.)