Moraine Park Technical College held its fifth-annual Distance Challenge recently at the College’s Fond du Lac campus.
The event is hosted by Moraine Park’s Process Engineering Technology and Mechanical Design programs. High school students build a device of 30 pounds or less to hurl or throw a rubber ball, with whatever contraptions getting the furthest “throws” declared the winner.
Four high schools entered teams this year: Mayville; North Fond du Lac; Elkhart Lake; and GPS Education Partners, a charter school in Jackson.
Tom Roehl, process engineering technology instructor at Moraine Park, said the event is a great way for students to learn collaboration, hone their critical-thinking skills and have fun.
“The competition is held as an opportunity for high school students to design, build and test a device under the constraints of weight, time and budget in a fun and low-pressure environment,” Roehl said. “Students also win prizes donated by local manufacturers and are exposed to career opportunities in manufacturing and engineering while at Moraine Park.”
This year there were six total entrants, four in the “Slingshot” division and two in the “Other” division, both being catapults.
Elkhart Lake – Glenbeulah’s entry named Sling-Shot took first place in the “Slingshot” Division with a throw of 260 feet. Owen Kalbacken designed and built Sling-Shot.
Mayville’s Wiley Coyote 2 took second place with a throw of 192 feet. Team members were Andrew Nothem and Weston Wiese. Meanwhile Mayville’s Déjà Vu took third with a throw of 146 feet and GPS’s Green Machine took fourth with a throw of 100 feet. Team members for Mayville’s third-place team were Justin Schlender and Nikolas Giese, while GPS’s team consisted of Ethan Moldenhauer, Collin Kenehan, Austin Johnson and Trevor Heck.
North Fond du Lac’s One Shot took first place in the “Other” Division with a throw of 85 feet. Team members were Christian Arthurs, Tyler Guedderz, Dylan Gromacki and Josh Thielke.
Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah’s Claw took second place with a throw of 76 feet. Team members were Kalbacken and Jon Roll.
“Each year that we have held this competition, I’ve been impressed with the creativity shown by the students,” Roehl said. “This is an excellent project for high school students because it requires design, manufacturing and troubleshooting, all of which are skills that employers look for in skilled labor fields.”
In addition to the competition, the students also had opportunities to tour the College and talk with local employers.
John Ostermann, Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School Technology Education, felt Moraine Park’s Distance Challenge provides a great learning tool.
“Events like [this] are a great way for students to learn beyond the classroom. It forces students to push themselves beyond what they know and see in class. They have unknown opponents and a set of rules set by the event rather than a teacher,” Ostermann said, adding “While testing at school, students often ask ‘Do you think this is good enough?’ They are typically looking for approval and someone to say ‘Good job, it’s done.’ In this case, I simply ask them if they think the other team’s device is “good enough” yet, or do you think they are still pushing their design to do better?”
For more information on Moraine Park’s Process Engineering Technology or Mechanical Design programs, visit morainepark.edu/programs.