Guest Blog Post by the 2015-2016 Cherry YES! Team
It was an interesting year filled with great ideas and strong support from community, non-profits and businesses. Our YES! students ventured in many directions. One group started a fare share coffee program. This included finding a supplier, branding their coffee “Tiger Coffee” and completing taste testing with small groups. In addition, this team talked with the University of Wisconsin Madison to ensure they where following the fare share rules. They also had a business consultant from the University of Minnesota Duluth present a one hour presentation on how to start a business. This was a lot of ground covered for a middle school project.
Our next group of students went in a unique direction. These girls designed a reintegration program for female offenders. The program included job training, health and housing. In an effort to ensure they where on the right track they interviewed two directors of half-way houses. In addition, they pulled information on all the facilities in Minnesota and read about the different opportunities each facility offered. Last, they designed their program based on their case studies. This was a life changing project for this group of students.
Next, we had the greenhouse crew. This group studied greenhouse designs, cost of construction, green building techniques and general construction practices. Their project led the way for our district to apply for a grant to build a cold weather greenhouse through a grant with the University of Minnesota. This grant, if received, will bring research scientists into our classrooms for three years to assist in running their cold weather greenhouse program. The students remark, “Our greenhouse design is done and we are prepared to begin building. The first step is to build the north wall. The roof system and south wall are supported by the back or north wall.”
There where other great projects also like “Rescue Air” for extreme downhill skiers and snowboards. This project provided a supply of oxygen and heat to those caught in a snow slide. The students noted that this is important since more deaths occur from asphyxiation then from hypothermia as a result of avalanches.
Next, we had a team that designed “Blow-Out Doors”. This was a simple design to save homes and structures that might experience a sudden change in pressure due to tornadoes. A simple concept with great potential. The students in this group noted, “The Blowout Doors break or pop open when air pressure drops in a very short period of time. This occurs in tornadoes. The doors open and pressure equalizes from the inside – out”.
I’m sure you want to hear about the electric vehicle (EV) program. The EV project was an eye opener. Building an electric vehicle was more of a challenge than we expected. We had a problem with specialty parts that were ordered from Monster Go-Kart. In addition, we had difficulty trying to coordinate things with the welder, parts did not match up, motors arrived without mounting brackets, wheels were for a scooter and not a go-kart and costs were rising. Two students from this group commented, “We where very excited about building an EV go-kart but it started to get complex. Our project took more planning than expected.”
The EV Go-Kart was and still is a learning experience. We have had engineering challenges all the way through. We bought frame materials, motors, batteries, hardware, steering shaft, wheels, seat, reflective tape and a few simple tools. The students designed the EV go-kart and we hired a welder to assist. The welder had difficulty understanding our goals. So after 3-4 visits with him we gathered our parts and went back to the planning board. The project rested for a couple of months.
Phase two of the EV program: We found a new welder and support person. This person lives in Hibbing and is a race car buff. He understands building and modification of systems. We are on the right track now. The plus side is this project will go into year two. This will allow the students to show their car at the local and state science fairs. So stay tuned-I’m sure more awards are on the way! This project will be completed by the end of the school year in 2016-17. Thank you for your support in our learning.