Racecars, roller coasters, drones

Published 3:48 pm Thursday, February 15, 2018

COLUMBUS – The February school board meeting was filled with hover crafts, bridges, racecars and roller coasters Monday night, as Polk Middle School students demonstrated their latest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects to the board members.  

STEM educator Dale Rush said the students were exploring ideas such as aero dynamics, flying drones, and building model bridges, made from straws. and roller coasters, made from paper.  

“The car traveled 62.5 feet in just over two seconds,” said Polk Middle School student Jacob Knighton about his model racecar, which he built from a block of wood.  

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Knighton apparently submitted plans and a proposal before he began working on the car.  

“The students learned about cost, aero dynamics, physics, NASCAR Engineering and more with this project,” Rush said.  

Throughout the year, the students have worked with experts to learn about designing their projects. They visited Burns High School to work with a flight simulator, and learn about drone flight from Lt. Col. Charles Ayers and cadets from Burns High School’s Air Force JROTC program.  

Eliza Russell, of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, visited the middle school to discuss how the racing series uses the engineering design cycle, aerodynamics, drag and lift to make the sport faster and safer. 

Other STEM projects this year included a 2-foot tall model roller coaster, made from paper. Polk Middle School student Susanna Ashworth used a marble to demonstrate the roller coaster, and explained that she had to figure out the correct angles and steepness that would keep the tiny ball on the track.  

Savannah Barnwell displayed the model bridge she created out of plastic drinking straws, and explained how she used a plastic cup filled with sand to test the bridge’s strength.