Medina students win first at GCC Tech Wars

Posted 18 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Provided photos – These Medina students worked well under pressure in a competition at GCC on Thursday. The students are, from left: Leeland Tolliver, Alwyn Cayea and James Bieliski.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – A three-person team from Clifford Wise Middle School in Medina took home first place among 54 teams in the Design Challenge/Mystery Project at the GCC Tech Wars on Thursday.

Seventh graders James Bieliski, Alwyn Cayea and Leeland Tolliver had 40 minutes for the competition in which they had to design and construct a cantilever arm that could support a tennis ball at the end.

Their technology teachers, Edward Williams and Justin Mergenhagen, took 16 students total to the competition at Genesee Community College.

“We selected the students from our 7th grade class and based it on their ability to solve problems in the classroom, who we felt were our most critical thinkers and who had the best team work skills,” said Mr. Mergenhagen.

The students were given simple materials to complete their task: a bundle of cardboard strips that were 2 inches thick and 38 inches long and a roll of masking tape.

Alwyn came up with the design and Leeland and James improved upon the original idea.

The students work on their projects at GCC.

“They could not tape their design on the floor and their cantilever arm had to be above 38 inches high,” explained Mr. Mergenhagen. “If their ball fell below the 38 inch mark, they would be disqualified. The group that had the longest extended arm from the fulcrum, would be the winner. Our team got an extension arm of 19.5 inches.”

It was a nerve-wracking process for the young engineers. As soon as the teams were told that time was up, they had to bring their projects over to the testing station to be judged. While transporting their project it kept falling over and it took them a couple of minutes to fix the issue.

The judge measured the length of the support arm with the tennis ball sitting on the end of it. The students patiently waited and watched as each group got tested. They were convinced they would not win, but when they noticed all the other group projects were falling over and failing their test, the Medina students started to have hope.

“They were so excited when they found out they were the first place winners,” Mr. Mergenhagen said. “Mr. Williams and I were so proud of their performance and how well they worked together. These boys are excellent deep thinkers and have the ability to tackle tough problem-solving tasks under tight constraints. They concentrated, were focused and communicated well as a team. Hats off to them.”