Recently, Mrs. LoRusso’s 7th grade STEM class had their competition for their Survival Project Robots. They had high school Principles of Engineering students judge their robots. The winners are Karolina Kutova and Koen Thill.
The backstory for the project was as follows: The year is 2201. The Earth as we know it no longer exists. Civilization has destroyed itself through nuclear wars, pollution, and lack of respect for the environment. The human race has all but ceased to exist. A group of multicultural scientists, doctors, and engineers have survived by living in a biosphere for the last 20 years. As they emerge from their protective sphere, they find the Earth totally destroyed. They need to rebuild the Earth and civilization. They will have to rebuild using only recycled materials that can be scavenged from the countryside while protecting themselves from wild animals.
The project required that one gear make an up and down motion, one gear must be reciprocating, one gear must be rotating, two of the gears may be on hand cranks, only one gear train may be related to defense, one of the gears must move when the wheels move (no hand-crank), and each gear train must have a specific job related to survival that can be clearly explained. For extra credit, the students could have 2 or more gears moving when the wheels move with no hand crank.
Karolina and Koen knew that to win, they’d have to go above and beyond. Their project included a wood chopper, a water generator, crops, a defensive fire designed to scare away predators, and a windmill to power the entire thing.
“Everyone really liked the windmill,” Koen said. “It was our favorite part, and I really think the Upper School kids liked it a lot too.”
“It was really fun. We came up with everything together,” Karolina said.
“Somedays Karolina would do more work and other days I would,” Koen added. “She did all the decorations and writing. She’s really good at art.”
Karolina and Koen decided to go beyond the scope of the project because they both enjoy engineering. “We already have good grades, so we figured we could make it even better,” Koen said.
“I really want to do engineering or robotics in Upper School,” he continued. “Space is the future. I really want to invent something for space travel someday.”
Karolina isn’t sure yet where she wants to go. “Engineering is really fun,” she said, “but I have a lot of other interests too, so I haven’t decided.”
Karolina and Koen will go to lunch with Mrs. LoRusso as a reward for winning the competition.