Archive for Thursday, November 16, 2006

EHS students apply learning at KU Engineering Day

November 16, 2006

A group of Eudora High School students got their Halloween kicks in a new way this year at Kansas University.

The students took part in a contest that was part of the university's annual Engineering Day. The goal of the contest was to create naturally powered device (no electricity) to send a ping-pong ball through a set of 2-foot-wide uprights.

Two teachers at the high school helped students prepare for the contest.

Pam Davis, a gifted learning facilitator at Eudora High School, led one of the groups.

"We had to have had as many teams as anyone else there," Davis said.

Between her students and those of industrial arts instructor Matt Higgins, more than 40 Eudora students took part.

Davis' teams took an independent approach to the design.

Freshman Heather Carder created her design around the idea of a catapult.

Carder said it took about five hours to fully build her machine.

"Duct tape is pretty much our best friend," Carder said.

Carder went through several designs before settling on a spring-loaded mechanism.

Another team sponsored by Davis of freshmen Alex and Abby Mott and Madison Dennis relied on air pressure to move the ping-pong ball through the goal.

"These girls had the longest distance of our group," Davis said.

Abby Mott said her group also took a trial-and-error approach to find enough air pressure to make their machine work.

"Ours took a pretty long time," she said.

Higgins said he took a more structured approach to the contest.

"I turned it into a whole project," Higgins said.

His students designed their machines from the drawing stage up, using the technology in the district's industrial arts room. As part of the project, Higgins' students did research, made plans with a computer-aided design program and checked those designs for weaknesses.

It was a way for the students to apply what they have been learning in class, Higgins said.

During Engineering Day, students had a chance to do more than just try out their machines against their counterparts at neighboring schools, Davis said. The students had the opportunity to meet KU faculty and see demonstrations by students within KU's School of Engineering.

The event could help the students get a better grasp of engineering and possibly move them to become an engineers, Davis said.

"There are 15 different kinds of engineering," Davis said. "Most people have no idea what they are."

To the students, the day was just fun. Because it fell on Halloween, some students came in costume, Carder said.

The event also gave students the opportunity to socialize.

Carder said the best part was meeting her friends from the other schools.

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