The Highlander

Creative contraptions

STEM classes compete to create energy efficient contraptions

Creative+genius-Settlemyer+shows+off+one+of+her+student%27s+contraptions.+The+contraption+is+designed+to+push+different+sized+balls+down+a+hallway.+
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Creative contraptions

Creative genius-Settlemyer shows off one of her student's contraptions. The contraption is designed to push different sized balls down a hallway.

Creative genius-Settlemyer shows off one of her student's contraptions. The contraption is designed to push different sized balls down a hallway.

Creative genius-Settlemyer shows off one of her student's contraptions. The contraption is designed to push different sized balls down a hallway.

Creative genius-Settlemyer shows off one of her student's contraptions. The contraption is designed to push different sized balls down a hallway.

Cordelia Lawton, Reporter

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It’s fourth quarter and many classes are winding down, but not Libby Settlemyer’s STEM class: they’re just getting started.

“They are fabricating [a contraption] that is capable of…pushing an object a certain distance,” Settlemyer said.

This project is geared to help students improve and develop different skills. 

“I’m looking for them to develop some fabrication skills. They’re learning how to use a drill and some basic glue gun techniques and things like that. They’re limited in terms of the types of materials that they have. That’s simulating working within a budget,” Settlemyer said. “There’s lots of things that I want to come out of this experience and not just whether they’re successful at pushing a ball a certain distance. I’m also hoping that they’re trying to improve upon their previous work.”

This is the first time Settlemyer has attempted this exact experiment and it has been quite successful.

“I’ve been impressed with the distances that some students are getting. I never anticipated that a lacrosse ball would actually go the length of the hallway,” Settlemeyer said. “I’ve seen some very innovative concepts.”

One of the things Settlemyer has attributed to the success of the project is the waste competition between her two classes that are participating in this project. Settlemyer has been having her students put all of their waste in their class period’s waste bin and is rewarding the class who uses the least amount.

“I would have found a lot of trash around the room and they would have probably used up a lot more of the supplies provided than they have,” Settlemyer said.”They’re learning that to cut down on their waste they can reach into the waste bucket and pull out something and recycle that and reuse it. So they’re also becoming resourceful.”

It’s not just Settlemyer who has deemed the project a success, but her students too. 

“I think it’s been better than most of our other projects which were mostly on computers,” freshman Navya Patury said. “This was one of the first things we did hands on.”

Seeing as it was a success Settlemyer is eager to continue it next year and already has many ways to improve it, like having her students patent their contraptions.

“[That way] nobody else can copy that design and everybody has to come up with their own original piece of work,” Settlemyer said. “Some students when they see somebody else’s contraption and see that it’s been working successfully, rather than saying to themselves ‘oh how can I make that better’, they just say ‘oh how do I make that’.”

While the students enjoyed the project, they faced many challenges. 

“Not a lot of us did too well [on the first part], but when we did the second test most of us improved at least by 100 efficiency so that was pretty good,” freshman Grant Halla said.”[My] least favorite part was the start, because you really didn’t know where to start off on and just a lot of trial and error.”

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