Martha’s Vineyard high school students dig the challenge

First-place winners Barra Peak (left) and Sara Thompson constructed the winning shovel. — Photo courtesy of Ruda Stone

Whether it’s snow and ice this winter or dirt in the garden next spring, Barra Peak and Sara Thompson are prepared to handle it. The two students recently teamed up to build a functional shovel that took first place in an engineering design competition at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

Science teacher Natalie Munn and math teachers Catherine DeGrandpre and Dawn Nelson launched the new activity last fall. Students signed up to compete in meets centered around a different engineering design challenge each month.

For December’s challenge, student teams were given 45 minutes to create a shovel using sheet metal and rivets. The teams then had to scoop up as much kitty litter as their shovel would hold, carry it across the room, and deposit it into a container. The winning shovels were determined by how many pounds of litter they transported.

Barra and Sarah took first place with 7.1 pounds. Tony Breth and Nathaniel Horwitz took second place with 6.2 pounds. Kyle Joba-Woodruff, Jack O’Malley and Michael Schroeder came in third with 4.7 pounds.

All the members of winning teams may accumulate points over the season, and grand winners will be named in the spring based on their totals.