In an attempt to tackle a problem facing the world today, hundreds of tech-centric teams from across the Bay Area met at The Tech Museum in San Jose for the annual The Tech Challenge event April 12-13.
The challenge, presented by Cisco, gives participants a hands-on project that solves a real-world problem. This year’s challenge, Harnessing the Wind, asked students to build a device that used wind power to move water from one location to another in three minutes or less. The program, which focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, reinforces creativity, problem solving, design, teamwork, leadership, presentation, risk-taking, and perseverance skills.
“One of The Tech’s deepest beliefs is that everyone is born to be a problem solver,” said Museum President Tim Ritchie. “The Tech Challenge gives participants an opportunity to experience and show how innovative they can be … The creativity at The Tech Challenge is stunning. Just when you think you’ve seen all the solutions to a problem, you’re presented with another way to solve it. If our participants can take from this program an awareness that they have the power to solve problems and that there is always a better way, we have succeeded.”
A handful of awards were given out in everything from team spirit to safety in the three divisions – 5th and 6th grade, 7th and 8th grade and high school.
In the 5th and 6th grade division, the Bad News Bears from St. Martin of Tours came in first, FOuR the WINdz from John Sinnott Elementary was second and iSolve, with students from Carden Day School of San Jose, Hyde Middle School and Kennedy Middle School, was third.
“No matter how big the challenge, if you work hard, anything is possible,” said Conner Hearney, 11, of the Bad News Bears.
“Every problem has a solution,” added teammate Michael Woo, 11.
The 7th and 8th grade division saw The Aqua Ducks from St. John Vianney place first, Jr. Imagineers, also from St. John Vianney, take second and friends, the Owari Boys, come in third. And, in the high school division, H2I – Happy to Innovate, a home school team from Fremont, was first, The Airbenders from the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula were second and MEKTech from Head-Royce School was third.
Santa Clara Unified was well-represented and left with hardware as well, as Peterson and John F. Kennedy Middle School’s Storm Chasers took the Judges Choice award in the 5th and 6th grade division. Milikin Basics + Elementary School’s System Overload took the Best Engineering Design Process First Place award, and Milikin’s Tech Titans Received the Best Engineering Journal Second Place award in the 5th and 6th grade division. In the 7th and 8th grade division, Peterson’s Hydroneers received the Best Device Performance First Place medal.
Next year’s challenge, Seismic Engineering in Action!, was unveiled on the final day of competition and will challenge students to build a structure that will withstand an earthquake.