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Taft Elementary students rewarded for putting solar energy to work

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Engineering judges from Oregon State talk to Taft Elementary students about their solar boat

Two teams of students from Taft Elementary School took the top two places Tuesday in the Solar Energy category of the seventh annual Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

More than 170 elementary and middle school students competed in the event hosted by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

Taft Elementary’s No. 5 team “Famous Four,” consisting of Ximena Sanchez, Carley Carlson, Bobby Moore and Marcos Bickford, claimed first place, while team No. 1’s “The Monsters,” with Maya Freschi, Ava Lambie and Casey Goodhue, took second among a field of 20 teams in the Solar Energy category at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Center.

A solar boat makes its way through the water

The teams tested solar boats in outdoor water tanks to see which model traveled the fastest. A variety of boat shapes and materials were represented, with designs using everything from plastic water bottles, duct tape and cork, and cardboard.

For weeks leading up to the event, students from Lincoln City, Newport, Waldport and Florence researched renewable energy, explored existing and emerging technologies, and worked in teams building their own model devices. Students put their wind and solar energy devices to the test to see how their devices performed.

Team members were interviewed by a pair of engineering judges. Points were awarded based on student responses to questions about how the team’s device worked and their design process.

The judges said they were impressed with the students, their designs and their ability to explain the reasons why their device performed as it did.

More than 40 teams designed wind turbines and tested them in a wind tunnel to determine which device produced the most energy.

A student tests her turbine in the wind tunnel

Students made their turbines from materials ranging from cardboard to three-dimensional printed plastic. Their models varied in the number, size, shape and angle of turbine blades.

In all, 40 science and engineering professionals volunteered at the event, helping with judging, scoring and operating testing stations.

Employment in the Renewable Energy sector provides high-wage jobs for those with strong science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. By engaging students in hands-on STEM activities with real-world connections, the Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge aims to get young people excited about STEM and STEM careers.

2019 Oregon Coast Renewable Energy winners:

SOLAR ENERGY

First Place — Rachel LaMarche’s team No. 5 “Famous Four” from Taft Elementary

Second Place — LaMarche’s team No. 1 “The Monsters” from Taft Elementary

Third Place –– Ms. McDermott’s team No. 3 “Orange Team” from Sam Case School – Newport

WIND ENERGY

First place — Ms. Kilduff’s team No. 10 “Keelah & Sugar”, Crestview Heights School – Waldport

Second place — Ms. Saxton’s team No. 6 “Windwalkers” from Crestview Heights School – Waldport

Third place — Ms. Hill’s team No. 4 “Tornado Turbines” from Crestview Heights School – Waldport

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