A Fair STEM Competition

The second place team from Berwick High School

As September draws to a close, everyone looks forward to the Bloomsburg Fair. The images conjured include concerts, rides, games, pizza, fries, funnel cake and everything else to excite one’s taste buds. 

For the second year in a row something else also caused some excitement at the Fair — a STEM competition between area high schools.  This year’s event was sponsored by The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce (with the help of First Columbia Bank & Trust and PPL Electric Utilities), Martz Technologies. the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation and Bloomsburg University, and featured five area high school teams and awarded $17,500 in grants.

The third place team from Central Columbia High School

The theme for this year’s projects was “Energy and Efficiency in the Community.” The teams all used their STEM skills and found creative ways to solve the problems face by harnessing the power of rain, sun or wind, to making trash produce energy.  The judging panel included Greg Martz, president of Martz Technologies; Al Neuner, VP of facilities operations at Geisinger; Kurt Aaron, WNEP-TV meteorologist; Robert Foster, president of Volunteers in Philanthropy and retired physics Teacher; and Jeffrey Emanuel, director of The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce. The schools were judged on written reports, posters, prototypes and oral presentations according to a predetermined rubric.  When the scores were tallied the winners were:

  1. Midd-West High School – Reclaiming What’s Lost – the project harnessed naturally occurring wind, and wind created by vehicles traveling on I-80 to generate electricity.
  2. Berwick High School – The Solar Energy Solution: Squashing the “Duck” – the project used solar panels to create a net zero school, the strived to put energy back into the grid.
  3. Central Columbia High School – A Road to a Better Future – the project proposed utilizing solar parking lots and highways to generate electricity.

First place got $10,000, second place got $5,000 and third place got $2,500 in grant funds for the schools’ STEM programs.  While not everyone could win, the schools from Montgomery (Biogas Food Digestor) and Shikellamy (Gravitational Microturbine) High Schools definitely showed that this generation takes our energy consumption seriously. They are already thinking and planning for a better future, and we are in good hands. The competitor’s projects were on display in the technology building all week long during the fair. 

The Foundation would like to thank First Columbia Bank & Trust and PPL Electric Utilities for their support of the 2018 Bloomsburg Fair STEM Competition.  Without their support of The Foundation, programs like this would not be possible.