Seneca Valley students are machines in competition
By Rachel Farkas
Published: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Seneca Valley students snagged an engineering prize for making an easy task become a more difficult one.
Juniors Tanner Quiggle, Emerson Maloney, Kobie Rankin, Andrew Lingenfelter, Cole Davis and Mike Palaski made up the Seneca Valley Senior High School team that won the Most Mechanical award this month for its entry in the Chain Reaction Contraption Contest at the Carnegie Science Center.
“This group of students is one of those that can visualize something and then actually make it come to fruition,” said senior high gifted support teacher Dale Wagner. “Their imagination is off the charts. They really think outside the box.”
The competition on Dec. 13 sponsored by Westinghouse Electric Co. challenged students to create a complex machine to do an everyday task in 20 steps or more in the tradition of engineer and inventor Rube Goldberg, said Carnegie Science Center spokeswoman Susan Zimecki. This year's task was to communicate a message.
The Most Mechanical award went to the team that demonstrated the most mechanical nature of the machine through the use of levers, wheels and pulleys, while minimizing the use of power sources, said Allison Fisher, Westinghouse's principal engineer in safety analysis product line.
Carpenter Powder Products sponsored the award, and the prize is a tour of the company's facility in Collier, Zimecki said.
Seneca's entry traveled through the history of communication, beginning with simple chalk drawings and ending with HTML computer language.
Teams from the senior and intermediate high schools competed in the contest, which drew more than 30 teams from across the region.
Patti Griest, gifted support teacher and advisor for the intermediate high school team, said the competition serves as preparation for college-level and real-world engineering work.
Students had to adhere to a budget of $100, send in biweekly status reports and design plans and present their work to a panel of engineers at the competition.
“Ultimately, it's a really big teamwork challenge,” Griest said. “You have to figure out how to work together as a team. And the second part of it is, it's an open-ended challenge. There's no right answer.”
“The teamwork part of it exemplifies what engineers do in their day-to-day jobs, with meeting budgets and sending in reports on deadlines,” she said.
Both of Seneca Valley's teams began working on their projects in September and committed a couple hundred hours planning, designing and building, Griest said.
The intermediate high school team's contraption had a “Gilligan's Island” theme and communicated a message through a series of signal flags on a ship.
Members of this year's senior high team made up last year's intermediate high school team that took first place in the 2012 competition, so they were disappointed when they did not have repeat success, Wagner said. However, the experience made them more determined to win next year's contest.
“I told them sometimes you learn more from failures than from successes,” Wagner said.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Day of Giving to benefit Butler symphony
- Cranberry’s oldest church looks to new era
- UPMC sports complex to benefit Seneca Valley, Cranberry
- Rowan Elementary students, parents reverse roles for Fitness Day
- Worth property owner wants out of 2005 gas lease
- Countertop maker to bring 50 jobs to Cranberry