This article originally appeared on Victor Valley News
On Friday, March 31st at the Double Tree Hotel in Monrovia, students from Options for Youth (OFY) Public Charter Schools competed in the finals of the school wide Engineering Design Challenge. Teams from the six OFY regions – Burbank, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, San Juan, Victorville, and Inland Empire – exhibited impressive creativity as they vied to build the tallest possible tower, strong enough to hold a 50g weight for at least five seconds.
The finals marked a culmination of two prior rounds held earlier in the month. The challenge for round one was to use cardboard, paper plates, straws, yarn, plastic cups, and clear tape to design the tallest and strongest weight-bearing structure they could imagine. For the regional semi-finals, the challenge was slightly altered, using the same resources to create a bridge.
The overall educational goal of the Engineering Design Challenge is to get the students excited about science and utilize real life applications. For the finals, the students’ resource options were large skewers, straws, toothpicks, plastic cups, cardboard, duct and masking tape. The twist for the finals was that each team had to manage a $500 budget to purchase the materials, bringing a math component into the STEM based challenge.
The winning structure stood an astonishing 61½ in. and was the brainchild of junior Jack Klein and freshman Ana Minn, both of whom attend the Sylmar school site in Burbank. For placing first, both students were awarded Samsung Galaxy tablets. Upon winning, Klein was shaking with surprise and excitement over their accomplishment. Representing school sites in Victorville, seniors Davion Mitchell and Israel Ambiz, and freshman Katrina Heath earned second place honors with a 61 in. structure, for which they both received Kindle Fires. Third place honors went to the San Bernardino team of senior Daniel Lozano and junior Alexis Rios with a 58½ in. structure, securing them both $25 gift cards.
“Like our student athletes, we want to celebrate and encourage those students that excel in STEM,” said Charles Pak, OFY Director of Instructional Operations. “This culmination is a pilot event and will be the first of many more opportunities for students from all of our regions to come together and compete in fun educational activities where they can get excited to apply what they’ve learned in class to various hands-on challenges.”