May 30, 2017

Positive impact displays student research, inventive ideas

Maksymilian Piasecki- WHS hosted the annual Next Generation’s Innovators Challenge: Positive Impact on Friday, April 8, focusing on student’s work and innovation.

The event, coordinated by Timothy McIntire, science teacher, involved students researching or creating projects that have a positive impact on society. Previous projects have included the creation of a hydroponic garden, a defense system and designing operating rooms minimizing infection risk.

While Positive Impact was previously centered around solving community problems brought up by businesses and organizations, the event is now focused more towards school-selected topics. The main criteria for projects this year asked for what the impact is, the size and significance of the impact and how likely the impact will be on society.

From 64 submissions and a top 25, a final three were selected. These three gave another presentation, which would determine the winner of the competition. A monetary prize was awarded to the finalists, with $600 being awarded to first place, $400 to second and $200 to third.

“Original research is at the heart of our curriculum. Our students engage in both their required and elective classes. Positive Impact is synonymous with individuality, creativity, independence, free will, free thought, perseverance, diversity, affect and effect,” Angela Sisi, principal, said.

For students who did not make the top 25, they were free to participate in the gallery walk. Anyone who created a mobile apps, high-mileage vehicles or battlebots were also welcome to showcase their work at the gallery walk.

Kurt Fenzel, technology education teacher, was the faculty sponsor for the engineering department. Throughout the semester, his students worked on a research project known as off-the-grid, which was related to alternative energy. Of the options they had, the group chose hydrogen power since it is under-represented and more affordable. A hydrogen fuel cell was created and went through tests determining what factors determined the power it produced.

“I think the importance of this is that they are involved in the research process… No matter what career field you’re in, at some point, you’re going to have to do some type of research and make sure there’s validity behind it, so I think it’s important to get them involved… (Research) is not going to go away, they’re going to do it in different capacities, but it’s always going to be some version of it,” Mr. Fenzel said.

Mr. Fenzel will be selecting the topic for his students next year and is considering doing an electrical vehicle next year since it follows the path of alternative and clean energy.

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