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engineering challenge

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Engineering Challenge first place team members Emma Johnson (left) and Barra Peak display their ribbons. — Photo by Natalie Munn

Each month Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students are given the opportunity to compete in an engineering challenge. The goal of the challenge, according to school officials, is to give students an opportunity to experience the work process of engineering a design challenge, and to collaborate with one another to get the job done well, in a different competition than the yearly science fair.

The students are issued a design challenge at the meet. Working in teams of two or three, they have 45 minutes to complete the task. Then the designs are evaluated to determine the meet winners.

The April challenge, held last week, was to create a lunchbox and an insulated beverage container. Requirements for the lunchbox were a functioning handle and the ability to carry some Pringles chips and eggs without breakage if the box was shifted around or dropped. The beverage container, which students created from a water bottle and a variety of insulating materials, had to maintain water at a set temperature.

Winners were determined by scoring a lunchbox drop test and carrying test, and a beverage container temperature check.

First place went to Emma Johnson and Barra Peak, second place to Jared Livingston and Chris Aring, and third place to Peter Ruimerman.

The April challenge concluded the 2013-14 school year competition. All members of winning teams accumulated points since last fall, and those with the most points received awards as the grand winners.

Peter Ruimerman took first place overall, Galen Mayhew, Kevin Montambault, second place, and Zach Bresnick, third place. Connor Downing, Thorpe Karabees, Andrew Ruimerman, and Willow Wunsch earned honorable mentions.

MVRHS science teacher Natalie Munn organized and ran the meets, with the help of a team of teachers including Chris Connors, Anna Cotton, Catherine DeGrandpre, Dana Munn, and Dawne Nelson.

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Ellie Reagan, a junior at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, readies her team's can crusher for testing. She won an honorable mention at the engineering challenge. — Photo courtesy of Natalie Munn

Peter Ruimerman, a junior at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), was one of three winners that tied for first place at the inaugural Cape and Islands Engineering Challenge held on Thursday, March 20. A total of 37 students participated, 10 each from MVRHS, the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, and Sandwich High School, and 7 from Cape Cod Regional Technical School (CCRTS).

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First place winner Peter Ruimerman, a Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School junior, gets down to crunch time with his team’s can crusher.

MVRHS science teacher Natalie Munn organized the multi-school engineering challenge held at the Swope Conference Center in the Marine Biological Laboratory at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Cape Light Compact sponsored the event with a $3,000 donation from its energy education program, which paid for the venue, Ms. Munn said.

MVRHS science teachers Dana Munn and Anna Cotton, math teacher Catherine DeGrandpre, and technology and design teacher Chris Connors helped Ms. Munn plan and run the event.  Five teachers from Sandwich, the Charter School and CCRTS also attended.

The regional event was patterned after the engineering challenge MVRHS holds monthly. The idea is to give students an opportunity to experience the process of engineering by working on a team to achieve a common goal, in a competition different from the yearly science fair.

Ms. Nunn contacted high schools on Nantucket and the Cape, inviting them to bring up to 10 students to compete in three separate challenges, kept secret until the competition.

For their first challenge, students made a produce scale using a bowl, string, some hooks, a strip of poster board, and a spring. They created a hand-operated soda/drink can crusher using a hinge, several pieces of 2 x 4 plywood, screws, pvc rings, and tape for the second challenge. For the third challenge, students made a desk lamp from cardboard, file folders, aluminum foil, a ring on a ring stand, three LED light bulbs, and a batch of wires and alligator clips.

Teams were made of students from different schools, and the members rotated for each challenge. Students received a score at the end of each challenge. Awards were based on their totals.

Ian McCartney and Savannah Reynolds of Sandwich High School tied for first place with Peter Ruimerman. Matthew Barton of the Charter School tied for second place with Jess Lizotte of Sandwich High School. Ian Wallace of Sandwich High School took third place.

After the challenge, the students and teachers enjoyed a lunch in the Swope Dining Hall. The program that followed featured three WHOI engineers, Megan Carroll, an MVRHS alumnus, Kaitlyn Tradd, and Loral O’Hara, who talked about their experiences with tethered and remotely operated ocean research submersible vehicles, such as “Alvin.”

Ms. Munn deemed the first Cape and Islands Engineering Challenge a success, and said that she hopes it will become an annual event, with more schools participating each year.

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With 660 inches of line, Kevin Montambault, Peter Ruimerman, and Galen Mayhew (left to right) topped the field in the latest engineering challenge. — Photo courtesy of Ruda Stone

Each month Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students are given the opportunity to compete in an engineering challenge. The goal of the challenge, according to school officials, is to give students an opportunity to experience the work process of engineering a design challenge, and to collaborate with one another to get the job done well, in a different competition than the yearly science fair.

Willow Wunsch, Andrew Ruimerman and Thorpe Karabees won second place with 385 inches.
Willow Wunsch, Andrew Ruimerman and Thorpe Karabees won second place with 385 inches.

The students are issued a design challenge at the meet. Working in teams of two or three, they have 45 minutes to complete the task. Then the designs are evaluated to determine the meet winners.

The March Challenge was to create a marker that could draw the longest line using 1 milliliter of ink. Each team was given ink, a variety of absorbent materials such as cotton, felt, sponge, and filter paper, and some glass, plastic, and rubber tubing for options to encase the materials to make the marker. To evaluate the marker designs, a team representative drew lines until white spotting or a non-distinct edge appeared. The lengths of each team’s lines were totaled to determine the winners.

First place went to Kevin Montambault, Peter Ruimerman, and Galen Mayhew (660 inches); second place to Willow Wunsch, Andrew Ruimerman, and Thorpe Karabees (385 inches); and third place to Chris Aring, Zach Bresnick, and Jared Livingston (363 inches).

All members of winning teams accumulate points over the season and are eligible to become grand winners of the challenge at the school year’s end.