Students win 'Most Environmentally Friendly' award

Three student teams from the Sixth Grade Campus reached the semifinals of the 2023 STEM Design Challenge with the “Hunger and Pollution Plane” capturing the environmental award.
Posted on 04/03/2023
SGC students from left, Bode Bishop, Molly Felten, Zwadi Mwangi, and Debbie Adebayo, work on their project during the 2023 STEM Design Challenge. By Gary Weckselblatt

A team of students from the Sixth Grade Campus won the "Most Environmentally Friendly" award at the 2023 STEM Design Challenge at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. Debbie Adebayo, Bode Bishop, Molly Felten, and Zwadi Mwangi - part of Kathryn Panny's math extension class - formed one of 65 teams in the middle school competition.

“That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment,” Sixth Grade Campus Assistant Principal Adam Smith said. “Our students showed great leadership.”

The students created a urine-powered "Hunger and Pollution Plane" that is eco-friendly and prevents pollution since it is a renewable resource and fossil fuels are not required. The plane flies around the world, delivering food to those who are in need.

When the results were announced, Mrs. Panny said she cried. “I was really excited for them, and so proud of the way they worked together to develop an airplane design that not only showed creativity but met the challenge of being economically friendly.”

Students were tasked to research environmental issues, identify one they would like to address, and create a solution to that issue. They had to build a prototype out of K’Nex that supports their solution. Teams had to bring their K’Nex pieces on the day of the competition and had two hours to put together their project.

Each team needed to bring a design notebook and blueprint to the competition and prepare a presentation of their model and how they answered the challenge. Judging criteria included creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design, and presentation.

“Each student took turns explaining their design and project and answered the judges' questions with confidence,” Mrs. Panny said. “They were so sure they were going to win.”.

Two other SGC teams also competed and all three reached the semifinals, a significant accomplishment considering the competition was between grades 6-8.

McKenzie Finger and Madison Koffel of Kathy Infante’s class formed “The Komposters." Their project is a compost collection system, where bins are provided for everyone, much like trash and recycling bins. This third bin collects compost and is placed curbside weekly for collection along with trash and recycling. All compost is taken to a facility that processes it, creating nutrient-rich soil that can be used in gardens and for planting.

Blake Jakub, Preston Dodge, and Cayden Augustine of Carolyn Althauser’s class were called the "Air Pollution Solution" students.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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