Each year, hundreds of middle school students are actively engaged in learning about fluid power during the NFPA Fluid Power Challenge, a competition that challenges kids to solve an engineering problem using fluid power.
The latest challenge was held at Macomb Community College in Detroit. Sponsored by Master Pneumatic, this year’s event included nearly 170 sixth grade students, said David W. Hone, President of Master Pneumatic. This is the second year Master Pneumatic has sponsored the event.
These students from Warren Consolidated Schools were divided into 42 teams. There were four categories of winners and an overall champion was team K.R.E.M., said Hone.
“The event went very well and there was a higher level of energy in the room this year. A major factor was the ten-fold increase in the number of parents that attended the event,” Hone said. “The participants will most likely remember the phrase ‘fluid power’ as they progress through middle and high school. More importantly, they gained experience in problem solving, teamwork and organizational skills.”
Normally geared towards eighth-grade students, the Challenge encourages teams to design and build a fluid power mechanism, and use that mechanism to do work in a timed competition. It begins with a Workshop Day, where the students learn about fluid power by building a pneumatic lifter. Afterwards, they are challenged over the next weeks to take their kits and design, build and test a prototype for their mechanism.
On Challenge Day, the students are then given the same tools and an identical kit to recreate their machines. Using them, they must compete to pick up weighted objects and place them on a platform. Awards are given based on total points, portfolio ideas, design and teamwork.
Like all science-based competition, the Fluid Power Challenge was designed to get more kids interested in science and math and technology-based post-secondary studies.
The event relies heavily in industry support. Donations and sponsorships are necessary to provide the students with tools and kits. Volunteers are also needed to mentor the students and guide them especially on Challenge Day.
“It is crucial for the industry/nation to remain competitive, that a greater emphasis, allocation of resources and these type of grass root events continue to grow and provide an opportunity for students to gain exposure the STEM educational tracts,” said Hone.
Contact Lynn Beyer, Workforce Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (414) 778-3364 for more information.