WESTFALL TWP. - A few of the world’s future engineers, matched off against one another at Delaware Valley High School last week, to see who could make the best air conditioner using a box, a fan, a battery and a mix of random materials.
Seven high school and four middle school teams participated in the first ever Warrior Engineering Invitational that required students to work together to create something that was sustainable, said Jolie DeFeis one of the creators of the competition and the executive director of Air Soil Water. DeFeis collaborated with the executive director of the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) Jeff Rosalsky and Gene Ruzanski P.E., from Schoenagle and Schoenagle LLC in an attempt to teach the students about conserving resources.
The DV team won the high school competition, surprising many with an air conditioner that was smaller than a shoe box. Before the box was presented to everyone, it appeared as though the team had designed their project in a similar sized box as the other teams. The purpose for the small box, senior Johnathan Ramirez explained was that more air could be pushed at a faster rate because of the small size and the air could be cooled faster. Initially, he said the team had no plans to use a small box, but at first the team misunderstood the requirements.
Problem solving, Ramirez said was “fun,” but at first with all of the possible materials the team could use, he called that “overwhelming.” Working together though, Ramirez credited that to the team’s success. Members of the team are all in an engineering class, so Steph Marccei said that was why the team was victorious. A junior on the team, Phillip Plotki said the competition was fun because it was something the students couldn’t do at home and the friends got to work together.
Every team arrived to a table that had the same materials waiting for them, except no one had any idea what the task would be. The evolution for the competition arose, DeFeis said because she feels too much emphasis and money is spent on sports, even though solutions need to be found to preserve natural resources.
Dr. George DeFeis said since kids are the future; they need to think about a solution to a problem. The judges looked at both quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate the students’ creations. The ultimate goal at the end of the competition, was to see who had the heaviest piece of ice.
The high school project was different than the middle school project because the students had to worry about temperatures in their air conditioners as they used batteries and fans, while also working with the ice. Whereas the middle school project focused on making the ice cube last the longest.
A teacher at Wallenpuapack Area High School and the adviser of the gifted students, Gene Schultz said the teams had to consider what they knew about insulation as some of the materials like salt had both benefits and flaws.
An industrial arts teacher at WAHS, Dave Heckman said the competition was a great problem solving challenge, which coincided with what the students learn in school because they do similar projects in class. The difference though, is the amount of time to design and work. Watching the students tackle the project, Heckman said was interesting.
A teacher at Wayne Highlands, Dave Wacker called the competition, “unique” because of the requirements. Aside from building air conditioners, the students also had to present their creations and explain the evolution of their projects. With materials like cotton balls, balloons, fabric and more, Wacker said there were a lot more items than the student needed, but that added a twist because it provided the teams with a variety of items to work with. Wacker said watching the teams work was hard as the teachers couldn’t provide input. He suggests the teachers should have their own team.
The Executive Director of PEEC, Jeff Rosalsky ran a similar competition at PEEC last year, which he said kids enjoyed. The randomness of the materials Rosalsky said came from brainstorming and trying to figure what would be good insulators.
The designs of the air conditioners varied, which senior at WAHS, Adam Haig noted as being “kind of nice.” Considering how air would be directed with the fans, Haig explained that was a huge part of the team’s V shaped air conditioner. With the only V shaped conditioner, Haig credited Schultz for teaching the students to, “think outside the box.”
The middle school winners were:
1st place – Wallenpaupack Area Middle School,
2nd place – Dingman Delaware Middle School team one,
3rd place – Dingman Delaware Middle School team 2.
The high school winners were:
1st place – Delaware Valley High School,
2nd place – Abington Heights High School,
3rd place – Wyoming Valley West High School.