Students compete in Oklahoma State-Tulsa engineering challenge
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Friday, February 22, 2013
2/22/13 at 5:42 AM
The little foam boat with an electronic circuit motor moved swiftly down the 10-foot-long PVC half-pipe trough.
At 11 seconds, it wasn't swift enough for Jenks High School 10th-graders Caleb Chesnut, Forrest Hull, Austin Gould and Nathan Kring.
They hurried back to their table to make tweaks in preparation for timed races at the event's end.
"The heat is on," said Rachel Langley, who teaches their chemistry class.
The students were among more than 200 fourth- to 12th-graders from 50 area schools who took on the 11th Oklahoma State University-Tulsa Engineering Design Challenge Thursday at OSU-Tulsa's downtown campus.
Every team of three or four students was tasked with designing and building the fastest boat. Awards were given in elementary, middle and high school categories for fastest boat, aesthetics and teamwork.
"What we're doing here is an engineering exercise," said organizer Carl Latino, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at OSU-Tulsa. "The purpose is to give students the idea of what engineers do."
Like engineers, teams had to work within time and materials contraints to meet the objective, he said.
Each team got the same materials - a foam platform to shape aerodynamically, a battery and wires to build an electronic circuit, and materials to cut out the appropriate propeller.
"The champion is really the one who learns something," Latino said.
Each team had to consider stability, propeller design, buoyancy and other factors to maximize thrust and minimize drag.
"The great thing about this is kids of all different academic levels can be successful here," Langley said.
Latino said the competition, sponsored by Spirit Aerosystems, has become so popular that they've had to turn students away.
"Spirit Aerosystems would like to double the number of students we can take," he said. "That would require a different venue. We just don't have the space or the number of volunteers we would need."
Stations were set up around the perimeter of the work area so volunteers could answer students' questions about each part of the construction process, such as the shape of the boat or the pitch of the propellers.
A team of three from Union's 6th and 7th Grade Center was trying to figure out how to make its boat move faster.
They had already decided to switch from an air propeller to one that propels the craft in the water.
"It's a little stressful, but it's fun," said Shania Shelton, 12.
She and Jasmine Harring and Tony Chinchilla, both 13, attended as part of Union's Carrera Program, an intensive prevention program for at-risk children.
But the OSU-Tulsa engineering challenge was especially compelling, they said.
"This is the funnest moment in my life," Harring said.
Original Print Headline: Students feel the need for speed
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
Jenks High School students Kegan Trammel, 16 (middle), and Cortlin Williams, 17, prepare their self-propelled motorized water- craft for racing Thursday during the Oklahoma State University-Tulsa Engineering Design Challenge. Watching are students Caleb Chesnut, 15 (left), and William Wang, 11 (right). JAMES GIBBARD/ Tulsa World
Students prepare the self-propelled motorized watercraft for racing during the OSU-Tulsa Engineering Design Challenge on Thursday. JAMES GIBBARD/ Tulsa World