Vernier Announces the Winners of its 2015 Engineering Contest

Vernier Software & Technology has named the winners of its 2015 Engineering Contest. The three winning educators are Tate Rector of Beebe Public Schools (AR), Ross Gunderson of Delaware County Christian School (PA) and Gioya De Souza-Fennelly of Columbia University’s Teachers College (NY). The winners were chosen for their innovative teaching of engineering concepts and practices using Vernier sensors to engage students in hands-on learning.

Selected by a panel of Vernier educational experts, each winner gets $1,000 in cash and $3,000 in Vernier technology. They also get $1,500 toward expenses to attend either the 2015 National Science Teachers’ Association STEM Forum and Expo in Minneapolis, MN, or the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education conference in Seattle, WA. The submissions were judged on their innovation, engineering objectives and the ease with which others can replicate the project. The panelists also took into consideration how the middle and high school submissions addressed the engineering practices called for in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The winning projects include the following:

  • In “Hot Pocket Rocket,” Rector challenged his eighth-grade engineering students to use using Vernier sensors and Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 to come up with a solution to the everyday problem of getting burned on the roof of your mouth. His goal was for students to make connections with the engineering practices identified in the NGSS.
  • In “Turning a Staple into a Light Bulb,” Gunderson had his students create a light bulb from an ordinary staple. This challenge, which was the culminating activity in his Materials Engineering course, focused on NGSS standard HS-PS3-3, in which students design, build and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one energy form into another.
  • In “The Solar Oven,” De Souza-Fennelly, who teaches STEM/Physical Science Curriculum and Methods to pre-service science teachers, had her students design and conduct an original physical science activity for middle school and high school students using engineering practices set forth by NGSS. One activity challenged students to design a solar oven.

You can see videos of these projects in action here, and learn more about the 2016 Engineering Contest here.

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.