Crushing the Competition
A group of Golda Meir Middle School students crushed their science fair competition after incorporating elements they learned at MSOE’s NFPA Fluid Power Challenge into their can crusher design.
For their school’s science fair, eighth graders Allison Brennan, Reyna Czyzewski, Andre Kommaliane and Eva Soto put their heads together to create a can crusher in order to reduce the number of cans that end up in the ocean. They were able to repurpose materials and elements they learned at the NFPA Fluid Power Challenge.
The annual NFPA Fluid Power Action Challenge at MSOE requires students to design and build fluid power mechanisms that pick up an object from one platform, rotate and place it on another. The competition is designed to get students excited about fluid power and develop their STEM skills in a fun way. The Golda Meir team received the 2019 Portfolio Award and the 2019 Design Award. They took their new hydraulics skills and revamped their award-winning design for their science fair project.
“At the NFPA Fluid Power Competition, we learned how to work with others and listen to your teammates. We also learned about hydraulics and how it can help our environment,” said Golda Meir team members.
After doing some initial research and brainstorming, they found a can crusher prototype that enabled them to put their own twist on it and use materials they already had.
“We used our knowledge of hydraulics in our science fair project by creating a can crusher that uses hydraulics. We had our old blueprints for the claw from the NFPA competition, and we considered how the syringe moved to pick up the game piece and wondered if we could convert that design so that it could push pressure down instead of to the side for the can crusher.”
With the leftover wood and syringes from their original hydraulics machine, the team got to work designing their can crusher. After four test runs and tweaks to the design, the machine successfully crushed an aluminum soda can.
The team was one of the top five winners that advanced from Golda Meir Middle School to the Milwaukee Public School’s District STEM Fair, but it was unfortunately canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Even though they weren’t able to compete in the district fair, the team hopes to perfect their design by recreating the machine with a 3D-printer in the future.
MSOE Director of STEM Liz Taylor was thrilled to see students applying what they learned at STEM programs in the classroom.
“I was elated when I saw the students using fluid power principles in their own projects,” said Taylor. “While we hope all of our programs impart something upon students who attend them—whether that be technical skills or a sense of self-efficacy—we don’t often get to see what happens after a student finishes a program. To see students take something they learned at a MSOE program and apply it to projects and problems they encounter outside of our campus is incredibly special.”