Students Star in STEM Challenge

The competition, focused on problem-solving, collaboration and innovation, highlights science, technology, engineering and math.
Posted on 04/01/2021
Neidig students seated in a classroom with Mrs. DiCicco, watch a screen in the front of the classroom where the competition is discussed virtually at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit.

By Gary Weckselblatt

A group of Neidig Elementary School fifth-graders finished second among 47 teams at the 2021 STEM Design Challenge at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. Neidig entered three teams into the competition and two reached the semifinals.

“We are so proud of our Neidig leaders' work with the STEM projects,” Principal Scott Godshalk said. “Our students learn so many skills related to collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. This STEM competition allowed students to integrate those skills to demonstrate advanced achievement. Mrs. DiCicco provided exemplary leadership with her students!”

The Challenge asked students to rethink a product in their home or create one that should be in a home. The product could be a new or different way to power a home, a new or updated appliance, or a new gadget for home entertainment. The project was created using recyclable materials or K’Nex. Each team was required to submit a design notebook and a blueprint. Presentations lasted up to two minutes.

Neidig teacher Stacey DiCicco, who coached each team, said her students worked hard and accomplished a great deal. “I gave them the tools they needed but they did all the work,” she said. “They were in charge. I’m thrilled for them.”

Here are her descriptions of each group:

  • Team 10: Anna Bruno, Max Crouse, Lucy Read, Jace Walsh - this team made it to the semifinals and won 2nd place in all of Bucks County for Elementary out of 47 teams. This team's project is a washing machine and dryer all in one. You choose the settings ahead of time and the wash automatically goes from the washer to the dryer. The water used then gets recycled.
  • Team 11: Karly Formica, Ben Maugle, Katelyn Oshinski This group made a large clubhouse for kids/adults. It looks like a shed that can get pulled around to different yards, campsites, etc. It is for entertainment.
  • Team 12: Martha Barbour, Brielle Brinckerhoff, Connor Hunsicker, Alex Orrison - this team made it to the semifinals out of 47 teams. This group created a camera on the inside of an oven so people can see their food cooking without opening up the oven and letting heat out. There is also an app where people can see their food cooking when they are in different parts of their house or if they are not home at all.

“COVID has canceled so much, and so many things have been taken away from the kids. And while this event certainly wasn’t the same as it has been, it’s part of the process about how we overcome challenges,” Mrs. DiCicco said. “This was a positive challenge, and I’m so proud of how our kids stepped up. I’m so proud of our three groups of students. Each one was amazing!”

Zach Garger, a K-12 Instructional Coach and the Quakertown Community School District’s Math and Science Content Specialist, said the event is a “unique experience” for elementary school students.

“My key takeaway is that despite all of the challenges, having to do everything in a virtual or a hybrid setting, they made it work,” he said. “Students put the focus on finding solutions to real-world problems by using their creativity. These are 10- and 11-year-olds coming up with innovative ways to make a difference.”

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].

Team 10's project
Team 11's project
Team 12's project
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