In an effort to provide authentic and engaging STEM experiences for elementary students – Shelby County Schools, AMSTI, and the University of Montevallo collaborated for the fourth year on the E³ Engaging Elementary Engineers experience, formerly known as the Science Festival.
On December 12, 114 teams of 3-5 grade students from 38 different schools gathered at the University of Montevallo campus to engage in hands-on engineering activities that promote critical thinking and teamwork. Students applied their understanding of STEM concepts to solve, design, and construct engineering projects on-the-spot. The theme this year was “Go Out of this World,” and featured space-related challenges like building a planetary rover and a space shelter with materials that were provided at the competition. There was also an egg drop design competition and a team-flag design competition that occurred at the teams’ base schools and were brought to the E³ event for competition and judging.
The winners of the flag design competition were Team Galactic Astroneers from Helena Intermediate for their space shelter team flag, and Team Sting from Vincent Elementary for their planetary rover team flag.
Teams also had the opportunity to design and construct an innovative egg drop contraption at their base school. This year, the event planners added a twist, requiring that the contraption’s design was entirely edible materials. These materials had to be able to protect an egg from impact when dropped from an elevated platform.
Teams were very creative with their designs, encasing their eggs in heads of lettuce, bread bowls, marshmallow structures, and various types of fruits and vegetables. Teams using the heads of lettuce and bread bowls seemed to fair the best throughout the competition, with nearly one-half of the eggs surviving the harsh fall onto the pavement below. The winning team was determined by the cost of budget and the total number of items used to construct the contraption. The winning team, South Shades Crest, won the competition having spent only $1 on one item used to protect their egg in the fall.
Students participating in the planetary rover challenge had to build a rover that would be self-propelled to go the longest distance over various types of terrain. The winning teams were Dynamites #41 from Vestavia Hill Central – third place; Dream Team #37 from Calera Intermediate – second place; and Celsius #29 from Thompson Intermediate – first place.
Students participating in the space shelter challenge had to build a shelter that would allow one team member to crawl inside and be completely covered by the structure to pass the “radiation” test. The structure also had to be able to withstand the planetary winds created by a leaf blower, and various items representing meteors and other space debris being dropped onto it. The winning teams were Team Mission Moon #54 from Pelham Oaks Elementary – third place; Apogee #39 from Cherokee Bend Elementary – second place; and Team Inverness Engineers #22 from Inverness Elementary – first place.