Four girls stand in front of a table wearing bright construction vests and yellow construction hats.

Penn State Beaver hosts K'NEX Design Challenge

By: Kristen Doerschner

CENTER TWP. — Hundreds of students visited Penn State Beaver Tuesday to take part in the K’NEX Design Challenge.

The event — coordinated by the Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit and sponsored and judged by Thermo Fisher Scientific — drew 52 teams of students from 14 area school districts.

In the fall, each team was given parameters for the competition. This year they had to construct a crane that would pick up an object and move it at least 6 inches, said Beaver Falls fifth grade STEM teacher Tyler Jodon.

There was also supposed to be an environmental component to the project.

Jodon said all of the teams start developing their ideas and then practiced executing them at after-school practices. The day of the competition each team had two hours to build their contraption from K’NEX.

A team from Todd Lane Elementary in the Central Valley School District made a crane meant to function on solar power that could rescue stuck farm animals.

Fifth grader Dehlia Goss said she loves animals. From there they started brainstorming and came up with the idea for the animal rescue crane. Other team members were fifth-graders Lukas Lowd and Dominic Suhayda and fourth-grader Riley Pucevich.

A team of sixth graders from Blackhawk School District created a crane with what they called a “mousetrap” attachment to pick up trash. Team member Mazzy Klinsky said she researched cranes, and then the team — also made up of Kylie Codeington, Ava Bielawski and Zoey Lindner — came up with fun ideas to add to it for the competition.

Each team also had a presentation board to accompany their build.

There were two divisions, and at the end of the competition teams from Beaver Falls and Western Beaver placed first. They will have the option to compete in Harrisburg next. Teams from Big Beaver Falls Area, Western Beaver and Beaver Area school districts took second and third places.