Ellerbe Middle School students were excited to learn that they had been chosen as the grand champions of the BioMoto STEM Challenge, a science, technology, engineering and math competition.
“We just found out this past weekend that we won the overall contest,” said Principal Melvin Ingram. “We were over the moon. Our trophy case isn’t even big enough for this trophy — the kids love it.”
Ellerbe Middle students competed first in a regional competition against other Richmond County schools, as well as Cabarrus and Rowan counties.
Two teams from Ellerbe Middle, “Total Chaos” and “Turbo Charged,” swept all categories to win the top prize.
The kids were instructed to design and build an “apparatus” that included:
• A separate device to lift the apparatus at least 12 inches
• At least two detachable mechanisms that allow the apparatus to roll
• A way to secure the rolling mechanisms
• A method to return the apparatus back to the original position.
During the competition, students had to:
• Use the separate device to lift the apparatus 12 inches
• Attach two rolling mechanisms
• Return the apparatus to its original resting position without touching it
• Roll the mechanism a minimum of three meters.
Judges placed a five gallon water jug on the apparatus to “test its integrity.”
“Another part of the challenge were ‘Peak Body’ and ‘Peak Mind’ categories, in which students’ physical and mental improvements were tracked over the year at the Appalachian State University Human Body Lab,” said Corie Curtis, regional coordinator at the NC Biotechnology Center. “Ellerbe Middle was the most improved overall in these areas.”
“The apparatus took us a few months to build,” said Benny Leviner, who coached the teams. “I don’t know that any of the kids had ever worked for such a long time on a single project — to create something like this from start to finish. We’re excited to win for Ellerbe. It’s a small school and sometimes we get overlooked.”
“I liked learning about the tools and how to use them,” said eighth grader Kyshon Ewing. “I was surprised to find out we won the overall competition.”
The group was treated to a surprise pizza party celebration.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.