Shaler Area freshman team wins Rookie of the Year award in Chain Reaction Contraption Contest

A Shaler Area team recently took top honors in a competition that challenged students to apply STEAM concepts to create a chain reaction contraption.

Shaler Area High School freshmen Emma Truscott, Lydia Valentine and Taya McCullough received the Rookie of the Year award and were named finalists, advancing to the top 8, in the annual Chain Reaction Contraption Contest at the Carnegie Science Center on Dec. 11. The contest is sponsored by Westinghouse Electric Company and presented in cooperation with the Carnegie Science Center and the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania.

As part of the competition, students are asked to apply lessons in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) to create a Rube Goldberg-type contraption. The contraption was required “tell a story” and had to include at least 20 steps with a run-time of at least 30 seconds. The Shaler Area students’ contraption told the story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

A total of 35 high school teams competed in the Chain Reaction Contraption contest with students being judged on their oral and written presentation of their contraption, and the functionality, complexity and creativity of their contraption. The Shaler Area students also dressed as characters from the story of Willy Wonka for the day of the contest.

“We were really shocked when we made it to the finals because there were a lot of great machines,” said Lydia Valentine.

Emma Truscott said the team worked for many hours to complete their contraption. The students dedicated about 30 class periods to perfecting their contraption with additional time carved out of study halls and lunches to complete the project.

“Seeing it work in front of the judges was a relief,” Taya McCullough said with a smile.

The three freshmen already have indicated their interest in collaborating again to participate in the Chain Reaction Contraption contest next year.

“It’s definitely something worth putting time into,” Valentine said.

The three freshmen are students in Shaler Area High School’s pilot STEAM Freshman Forum, a semester-long class which provides an orientation to the high school, study skills and career guidance while focusing on the relationship of the STEAM fields through project-based learning and guest speakers.

The course is co-taught by Paul Sorby, business education teacher; Bryan Seybert, chemistry teacher; and Greg Mason, physics teacher, and is part of a more focused emphasis on STEAM across the district.

Shaler Area freshmen shine in Science Center event
TribLIVE | Neighborhoods article Dec. 21, 2015
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1800 Mt. Royal Boulevard     Glenshaw, PA. 15116     P 412-492-1200     F 412-492-1236
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