Hempfield students heading to Harrisburg for state K’NEX competition
With their K’NEX pieces in tow, four Hempfield elementary school students are set to build a functioning crane during Friday’s statewide competition in Harrisburg.
The K’NEX State Competition, a yearly event that uses the toy construction system, requires students to build a crane that can move three objects at least 6 inches across a table, said Fort Allen Elementary School Principal Marty Rovedatti-Jackson.
“It’s really intense,” Rovedatti-Jackson said. “And they do it on their own; it’s not like we give them curriculum time at the school to do it. They do this on their own time.”
Armed with K’NEX pieces and criteria set by the judges in January, fifth-grade students Cameron Koontz, Ameila Droste, Raegan Reamer and Braden Crowe — also known as the Cranium Connectors — worked together to come up with an eco-friendly design, create blueprints and a presentation for judges.
So far this year, the students have logged about 45 hours, Rovedatti-Jackson said.
Their project was inspired by the California wildfires. Their crane, which is about 7 inches wide, is designed to lift trees , allowing them to be replanted in new locations. It uses a rope and pulley system.
“It’s unbelievable what they came up with,” Rovedatti-Jackson said, adding that the kids had limited help from teachers.
Starting out as a competition among 10 teams at Fort Allen, the top two teams moved on to compete in a district competition at Stanwood Elementary School. The district competition consisted of teams from Maxwell, Stanwood, West Hempfield and West Point schools.
There, the Cranium Connectors placed first and moved on to a competition at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit where they competed against students from across the county.
Now, they’re set to compete at states.
At the competition, students will have two hours to build their crane, using less than 1,400 K’NEX pieces, and then two minutes to present it to judges.
“Each time they compete they have to build it,” Rovedatti-Jackson said. “Right now, I think they have it down to 30 minutes.
“I watch them go through it several times,” she said. “They make sure their motors are running and then they run through the entire presentation just like they were presenting to the judges. And then they go through things they may have missed.”
Students from Fort Allen Elementary School will leave for the competition in Harrisburg on Thursday.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .