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Design competition event for Coastal Bend schools closes out National Engineers Week at TAMUK

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Two students on the left get ready to test out their coaster design for a judge on the right.

The STEM-focused competition activity had teams designing and crafting a marble-run roller coaster.

Over 150 Coastal Bend Junior, middle and high schools tested their engineering mettle at the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering E-Week competition on Feb. 24. The event closed out a week of celebrations highlighting the full spectrum of engineering disciplines offered at the university.

“This year’s project is a marble run roller coaster,” said Tamara Guillen, the executive assistant to the dean. “Students have supplies they can use to construct a roller coaster and the neat thing is they have to build an apparatus to get the marble to the starting point instead of just placing it at the start of the roller coaster.

“I think it’s a little bit difficult, which is great because we want to challenge them. We want to see them incorporate different engineering aspects into their design.”

The STEM-focused activity had teams representing 15 area schools tasked with crafting a marble-run roller coaster. The students had to utilize objects from a 17-item material list, including components like a tri-fold poster, straws, paper clips, pipe cleaners, foam stars, and more.

“This competition is very beneficial for our students to practice their logic and reasoning skills in that hands-on activity that we sometimes don’t have as much time for in the classroom,” said Kristian Villarreal, the 6th and 7th grade science teacher at Ricardo ISD.

The teams were judged on whether their structures met the design parameters, had sound engineering, its structural integrity, the group’s creativity and the project’s completion. Each team had two attempts to have a marble complete the run of its track.

Coltin Lopez, an industrial technology and applied engineering student, was one of the university students helping the teams, offering design advice and support.

“In engineering, you have to be very open to speaking with people, and a lot of the kids here are shy. So getting to work with them has allowed them to open up,” Lopez said. “I think they’re learning a lot of skills they would need to have that apply to the engineering field or to give them a better understanding of what engineering is.”


High School Winners:

1st place: Team 6 - Academy HS

2nd place: Team 11 - Gregory-Portland HS


Middle School Winners:

1st place: Team 14 - School of Science & Technology

2nd place: Team: 16 - Tuloso-Midway Middle School

Category: General Univ

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