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Local Students Win Big at STEMfest! Knox

Newark, Ohio, March 1, 2016 — Middle and high school students from all over Knox County built model bridges, water filters and thermal-efficient homes for the chance to win scholarships, a one-of-a-kind hand-blown glass trophy and recognition from local employers. Their designs were presented on Saturday, February 27, 2016, at STEMfest!® Knox in downtown Mount Vernon.

STEMfest_0493_2016.jpgIn the toothpick bridge challenge, hosted by Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), teams and individuals went head-to-head to design the most efficient, economical, functional and aesthetic bridge using only toothpicks and glue. The winner was Isabel Hooley from Temple Christian Academy. She received a $1,000 scholarship to attend COTC.

“The toothpick bridge is a great exercise in thinking out a problem,” said Whit Tussing, interim dean and professor of engineering technology at COTC. “It represents the integration of design and practice of a structural principle. You can’t just build a pretty thing, it has to work and meet the given set of rules.”

Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) hosted the global water challenge. Access to clean water is one of the 10 greatest challenges facing the world today according to the World Health Organization. An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide go without ready access to a purified community water source, resulting in 1.5 million water-borne disease-related deaths every year. Wyatt Kissell, Larissa ​Blanchard, Jonah Burson and Noah Humprey from Mount Vernon Middle School won the middle school division. Robyn Downes, Erin Smith and Alisha Troyer from Temple Christian Academy won the high school division; each high school student received a $1,000 scholarship to attend MVNU.

In the home energy challenge, hosted by Kenyon College and Owens Corning Science and Technology Center, teams were instructed to install insulating materials in a model building structure. Approximately 40% of U.S. energy goes into heating and cooling of residential and commercial buildings. Minimizing thermal losses in buildings is a huge opportunity area for global energy efficiency. Middle school winners were Carson Comer, Bradin Palm and Logan Moore from Mount Vernon Middle School. High school winners were Drew Fennell, Tim Noble and Robbie Strehle from Temple Christian Academy; each high school student will be a VIP for a one-day Kenyon College Summer Science specialized education experience.

STEMfest!® Knox represents a notable partnership among Knox County’s higher education institutions: COTC, Kenyon College and MVNU. Additional sponsors include SPI Spot and The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology with generous support from Ariel Corporation, Griffin Insurance, Siemens, Brenneman Lumber Co., Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County, First-Knox National Bank, Knox Community Hospital, Mount Vernon Rotary Foundation and Consolidated Electric Cooperative.

Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.​

Photo caption: COTC President Bonnie L. Coe, Ph.D., presents a trophy to Isabel Hooley.